Daily Wrap-up: Round 3, The Greenbrier Classic

July 07, 2012
Staff and wire reports

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson shot a 5-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of The Greenbrier Classic on Saturday.

Simpson had his second straight bogey-free round to reach 14 under on The Greenbrier Resort's Old White TPC Course.


Troy Kelly was second after a 62. Rookie Charlie Beljan, J.B. Holmes and Ken Duke were 11 under. Beljan had a 67, Holmes a 66, and Duke a 65.

Simpson wasn't disappointed that Tiger Woods wasn't around to challenge him. Woods missed the cut for only the ninth time in his PGA TOUR career.

"When he's not lurking around on Saturdays and Sundays, it makes it a little easier I think for other guys," Simpson said.

Simpson said he plans to peek at the leaderboard, "but the way I look at it is, I've got to go shoot under par (Sunday). And if I don't, somebody's going to probably going to (play) pretty good. I think the golf course is playing in such a way that there's plenty of birdie opportunities.

"I've almost got to imagine that these guys are all going to shoot 4, 5 under. I've got to stay aggressive."

Simpson has been in this position before. He briefly led entering the final nine holes last year, but faded to a tie for ninth.

"I realized shortly after the round that I wanted it so bad that it kind of put more pressure on myself than the pressure I was already feeling," he said. "So it kind of locked me up a little bit and I wasn't able to perform like I had been all week.

"I think it's good for me to remember that, not only (Sunday) but every week that I just have to let it come to me."

Simpson started the third round a stroke ahead of five others. He opened with six straight pars before gaining momentum on the back nine. He two-putted for birdie from 24 feet on the par-5 12th, made a 7-footer at No. 14 and retook the lead from Kelly with a 6-foot putt on the 597-yard 17th. Simpson finished it off with a 20-footer for birdie on the par-3 18th.

Projected points
The race for spots in the FedExCup Playoffs continues this week. Click to see who's making moves. Projections

He'll be pursued on Sunday by a pair of players making medical comebacks.

Kelly underwent hip-replacement surgery in September 2010 after being diagnosed with arthritis. Holmes had part of his skull removed in September 2011, four months after he started having vertigo symptoms. He returned to the TOUR in January.

While playing the mini-tour circuit several years ago, Kelly didn't know what was causing pain in his left hip. He played through it for two years but got to the point where he could barely walk, so he went to a doctor and surgery followed.

"For me to just play this game at a high level, I had to go get it done," Kelly said.

He starting playing golf again five months later, but it took up to a year before he felt his muscle strength was back to normal. He was 11th in winnings last year on the Web.com Tour (then known as the Nationwide Tour) and earned his spot back on the PGA TOUR.

The new hip hasn't made his golf game exponentially better. He has made seven cuts in 15 events this year but has yet to finish in the top 30.

Kelly has had longtime problems with his putter. Ranked 187th in the FedExCup standings, he entered The Greenbrier Classic 174th in putting on the TOUR.

Shot of the Day: Flores

Martin Flores holes a 38-foot birdie chip shot on the par-3 15th hole.

On Saturday, Kelly made five birdies on the front nine and had three more on the back.

"I haven't made a lot of putts pretty much the whole year," Kelly said. "It's just good to see some putts go in. I had fun today."

Holmes believes his swing and judgment on yardages have become more consistent over the past six weeks and he isn't having as much stiffness in his neck.

"I feel like I've improved a whole lot and really narrowing it down and getting back to where I was," Holmes said.

The 43-year-old Duke has five top-10 finishes this year. He has finished second three times in his tour career. Four birdies on the back nine put him in contention for that elusive first win.

"There's something missing," Duke said. "I'm not focusing the entire day, so there's about an hour or so in there that I'm not focused, so I'm working on that. You know, if we keep knocking on the door, maybe it will open. You just never know."

The Old White TPC Course: Round 3
The par-5 12th hole was the easiest with a Saturday scoring average of 4.468.
The par-4 2nd hole was the toughest with a Saturday scoring average of 4.208.
About the leader
• 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, who entered the third round holding a one-stroke lead over five players, birdied four of his last six holes en route to a 5-under 65 on Saturday to move to 14 under and take a two-stroke lead over Troy Kelly.
• Simpsons 65 in Round 3 was his second straight bogey-free round. His lone bogey of the week came at the par-3 15th in round one.
• A year ago, Simpson entered the final round at T3 and trailing Anthony Kim by two strokes. He entered the back nine at 10-under-par. If he had shot even par, he wouldve ended up in the playoff with a chance for the win.
• Simpson is making his third start at The Greenbrier Classic (MC-2010, T9-2011). Since teeing it up at last years Greenbrier Classic, Simpson has 12 top-10 finishes in 24 events, the most top-10s of any player during that time.
• Simpson, No. 9 in the FedExCup standings, has now made 14 cuts in 16 starts this season, with five top-10 finishes.

Ted Potter Jr. (64) was sixth at 10 under, four strokes behind Simpson. Blake Adams (64), Graham DeLaet (64), Charlie Wi (68) and Martin Flores (69) were 9 under.