By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- For much of the 2013 PGA TOUR season, Webb Simpson has been one round away from a putting together a really good finish; maybe even producing the fourth win of his career.
Simpson's best week undoubtedly came back in April at the RBC Heritage where he lost in a playoff to Graeme McDowell. He's got two other fifth place finishes, as well as a tie for sixth.
At the same time, though, there have been weeks like the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational where he opened with a 64 but shot 11 strokes higher in the second round and went on to tie for 14th.
So finding consistency has been a goal, but Simpson feels like he's on the right track -- particularly after shooting 66 Friday at The Barclays. He's 9 under and owns a two-stroke lead at the midway point of the second round.
"I do," Simpson said when asked if he was close to putting four rounds together. "That's my hope. I think my bad shots are getting better, and I've been putting well now for a couple months. So it's always nice when you are having a day when you're struggling a little bit, get the ball in the hole and make some pars.
"But the best test for what you're working on is getting in contention on the weekend on the PGA TOUR. I'm excited to be in contention. Like I said, there's a lot of golf to play. We have half the tournament done, about halfway to go, and it's just nice to kind of be in there and have a chance I think."
Interestingly, the last time The Barclays was played at Liberty National, Simpson also held the lead at the midway point before finishing eighth. He loves the proximity of the course to one of his favorite cities and says the greens at Liberty National remind him of Donald Ross greens which gives him a comfort zone.
"I grew up in Raleigh playing on Pinehurst and playing a lot of Donald Ross courses," Simpson said. "They are undulating; the putts break a lot and you have to use a lot of imagination around the greens. I think I'm just used to it and I enjoy it.
"And you know, I was thinking about it when I signed my card, I guess last time I shot one shot worse, but was in the lead. So it's nice to kind of repeat those feelings and the temporary leader, I guess, after two days."
Simpson, who shot his low round of the season, a 63, on Sunday on another Donald Ross course during the final round of the Wyndham Championship, played 29 holes on Friday. He capped off the first-round 67 with a birdie at the par-5 18th that he said was playing like a par 5 and carried the momentum into the next 18 holes.
Simpson started his second round on the back nine with a bogey but ended up making the turn in even par. He got hot on the front nine, though -- making six birdies in the first eight holes on the way to the 66.
"It was playing fast, the greens were firming out," Simpson recalled. "But then I guess humidity kind of set in and the front nine played a lot softer. So I was able to get on a nice run there, birdied six of eight holes. It feels great to play good on a long day."