Webb Simpson continued his stellar play of late with a 5-under 65 on Saturday to take a two-shot lead over Troy Kelly into the final round of the Greenbrier Classic. Here are 5 Things to take away from Saturday’s round at the par-70 Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.:
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1. UNTANGLED WEBB: After winning the U.S. Open while sitting in the clubhouse with his wife and then playing second fiddle to Tiger Woods in the first two rounds this week at Greenbrier, Webb Simpson continues to impress with his mistake-free play.
Simpson’s 65 also his bogey-free streak to 48 holes extending back to his sixth hole on Thursday morning’s round.
Simpson has posted rounds of 65-66-65 to sit at 14 under. The pair of 65s are tied for his lowest rounds on Tour in 2012, as he shot 65 in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship in May.
He’ll take a two-shot lead into the final round in the top 10 of five statistical categories at Greenbrier, including T-4 in birdies with 15 and T-5 in greens in regulation at 77.8 percent.
Simpson has finished in the top 15 in 3 of his last six starts, including a win at the U.S. Open and fourth-place finish at Wells Fargo.
Simpson finished T-9 at Greenbrier in 2011 at 8 under and missed the cut in 2010.
Simpson isn’t disappointed that Tiger Woods isn’t around to challenge him. Woods missed the cut for only the ninth time in his PGA career.
“When he’s not lurking around on Saturdays and Sundays, it makes it a little easier I think for other guys,” Simpson said.
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2. SUP, HOLMES: A win would cement J.B. Holmes’ Comeback Player of the Year chances, and he has three shots to make up on Sunday to make that happen.
Holmes posted a 4-under 66 on Saturday to follow solid rounds of 65-68 to get to 11 under and in a tie for third place.
Holmes returned to the Tour in January after sitting out for the last part of 2011 to have surgery for a tumor on his brain.
The long-hitter is not surprisingly second in driving distance this week at 331.2 yards, and has used those bombs to his advantage, sitting first in greens in regulation at 83.3 percent.
“I feel like I’ve improved a whole lot and really narrowing it down and getting back to where I was,” Holmes said.
He finished T-78 last week at AT&T National after a third-round 81, making this week’s performance a bit more of a surprise.
Holmes has made 12 of 16 cuts this season, but a pair of T-8s (Shell Houston Open and Northern Trust Open) are all he has to show for it, with three other top-25s helping him make a little more than $790,000 this season.
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3. WHERE’D YOU COME FROM? A day after rookie Charlie Beljan jumped near the top of the leaderboard with an 8-under 62, Troy Kelly moved 21 spots to solo second with a 62 of his own.
Kelly went out with a 5-under 29 and played steady on the back with birdies at Nos. 12, 16 and 17 to get a spot in Sunday’s final group.
Kelly has owned the par-5 12th hole this week with a pair of birdies and an eagle on Friday.
“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.”
Kelly has struggled on the PGA Tour this season, missing eight cuts and a T-37 finish at the Mayakoba Golf Classic standing up as his best. The 62 is five shots better than he previous best score on Tour, a 67 at the Humana Challenge in January.
He’s made just $81,644 in 14 starts.
Kelly turned pro in 2003 and has 33 career starts on the PGA Tour, making only 10 cuts. He did have two second-place finishes on the Web.com Tour in 2011.
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4. AMATEUR HOUR: Alabama sophomore star Justin Thomas – who picked up the prestigious Haskins Award at the outset of this week in a pre-tournament ceremony at Greenbrier – fired an impressive 4-under 66 to move to T-26, eight shots off the lead.
Thomas had five birdies against one bogey on Saturday and is T-8 in the field in driving distance at 315.7 yards.
He’ll be paired with another Haskins winner on Sunday, Kevin Chappell, at 11:23 a.m.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: A day after running off four-straight birdies to get inside the cut line, Steve Stricker fired a 2-under 68 to get to 6 under . . . Joining him at 6 under is former UCLA star Patrick Cantlay, who is making his third start as a professional . . . First-round leader Vijay Singh followed his dismal 4-over 74 with a 68 on Saturday . . . Greenbrier’s pro emeritus Tom Watson shot a 1-over 71 to fall back to 1 under overall . . . Defending champion Scott Stallings continues his 2012 struggles, firing a second consecutive even-par 70 to sit T-49 and 11 shots off the lead . . . FedEx Cup champ Bill Haas and PGA Championship titleholder are both at 8 under and within realistic striking distance, considering Stuart Appleby shot 59 here in 2010.