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May 5 2012

12:35 AM

The houseguest outplays his host

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --  At least on Friday, Nick Watney won't have to take out the garbage.

That chore belongs to the man who shoots the highest score at Webb Simpson's house where Watney and his wife Amber are bunking this week during the Wells Fargo Championship. And Watney's 64 on Friday trumped Simpson by four strokes, producing a change at the top of the leaderboard, as well.

Watney now owns sole possession of the lead at 12 under, overtaking his host, who was in a three-way tie after an opening 65. Simpson is one stroke back after a second-round 68 while Ben Crane -- who is staying in a home in the same neighborhood -- is tied with Stewart Cink, D.A. Points and John Senden at 10 under.

Talk about Southern hospitality.

So Watney and Simpson, who have have fed off each other – literally as well as figuratively -- during the first two rounds, will get to spend even more time together on Saturday. They will tee off at 1:40 p.m. in the day's final group at Quail Hollow, which is a mere nine-tenths of a mile from Simpson's house.

"It'll be fun to go out with my roommate," Simpson said.

Watney said Simpson was the grill master on Monday night as they held a birthday celebration for Amber and Jason Day's wife, Ellie. Otherwise, the two families -- Simpson and his wife Dowd have a 14-month-old son and another child due in August -- have been taking it easy.

"We've just been grabbing something quick, just hanging out," Watney said. Of course, there was that trash-talking and taking little bet. "So far it's been a tough house," the lanky Californian said with a grin.

The 26-year-old Simpson joked that he was going to go home and turn the air-conditioning up to which Watney responded, "I'm pretty sure he's going to stay at the house, too, so he can't turn it too hot." The former Wake Forest All-American has had more on his mind this week than his houseguest, though.

First of all, Simpson, who picked up his first two PGA TOUR wins last year, found out he'd be playing with Tiger Woods during the first two rounds. He was already nervous, knowing he'd have so many friends and family in the gallery, but that addition kind of put things over the top.

Turns out, Simpson finished 11 strokes better than Woods, who missed the cut for just the eighth time in his career, and eight up on the other member of their threesome, Geoff Ogilvy. And the throngs following Woods may have eased the pressure on Simpson, who managed to win before an all-but-home crowd 90 miles away in Greensboro, N.C. last year. 

"I had a hard time the first couple years with it, but I just understand they're all rooting for me, and it kind of mellows out when you're playing with Tiger because the crowds are huge," Simpson said. "It's harder to see the people I know, which probably makes it easier. So yeah, it was fun, and I think the crowds, I'm sure, will continue to be big this weekend."

Simpson said he's surprised at the scoring on his home course so far this week. Watney's 36-hole total of 12 under is just four strokes off the record after four rounds.

"It's unbelievable," Simpson said. "... But I think with the perfect conditions, low winds, humidity, greens are softer, I think you're going to see a lot of birdies this afternoon and probably will continue into the weekend."

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