Simpson surges into contention

2012-02-03 06:55
Webb Simpson (Gallo)

Arizona - American world number six Webb Simpson used a red-hot putter to charge into contention in Thursday's frost-delayed opening round of the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Simpson, the highest-ranked player in the field, sank several putts from between 12 and 15 feet on the way to a six-under-par 65 in relatively calm conditions at the TPC Scottsdale.

The 26-year-old mixed seven birdies with a lone bogey at the par-four sixth to finish a stroke behind compatriot Ryan Palmer, who snatched the outright lead late in the day before play was suspended in fading light.

Americans Derek Lamely, Kevin Na, Chez Reavie and Harrison Frazar, and Australian Jarrod Lyle, carded 66s while South African Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion, opened with a 67.

Frost had delayed the scheduled tournament start by an hour and 42 players will have to complete the first round on Friday morning when temperatures are forecast to dip even lower.

Simpson, who ended a career-best season on the PGA Tour last year with two victories and second place in the money list, was delighted with his performance on the greens.

"The thing that kind of held me in there all day was my putting," he told reporters after totalling only 27 putts. "I made a bunch of putts, so I'm excited about that. The one on 17 was the longest, maybe 20, 25 feet."

Simpson, who teed off at the par-four 10th, rocketed up the leaderboard with four consecutive birdies from the par-four 17th.

"That kind of gave me a good jump start in the first round," he said. "Only blemish was at number six. I really didn't feel like I hit a bad shot, I hit a chip that released a lot more than I thought it would. Other than that, it was solid."

Asked whether it felt strange being the highest-ranked player in the field, Simpson replied: "I'm getting used to it, but I don't think about that stuff that much.

"I'm just a believer in you can climb up as quickly as you can go down, so I don't pay attention to it that much."

Phil Mickelson, winner of the Phoenix Open in 1996 and 2005, needed only 24 putts on his way to a four-birdie 68.

"I feel so good with the putter," the American left-hander said. "It's been a few years since the guys out here have seen me putt like this.

"I'm looking forward to continuing this streak and hopefully getting in contention for the weekend because I feel really confident on the greens."

American world number nine Dustin Johnson and compatriot Keegan Bradley, winner of last year's PGA Championship, also started out with 68s.

It was not a day to remember, though, for former world number one Vijay Singh, who carded a 76, and 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink, who battled to an 83.

Read more on:    phoenix open  |  webb simpson


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


30 of the world's greatest golfers will be heading to the Gary Player Country Club for this year's Nedbank Golf Challenge - now in its 35th year. For all the latest news, player profiles, hole-by-hole descriptions and past winners, be sure to check out Sport24's dedicated section.

Latest blogs

Which is your favourite event on the golfing calendar?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.