Simpson, de Jonge share lead at Greenbrier
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – Brendon de Jonge rode a wave of Hokie fever to a share of the second-round lead at the Greenbrier Classic.
De Jonge shot a 3-under-par 67 Friday and was tied with Webb Simpson at 7 under midway through the tournament.
Among those failing to advance to weekend play were Phil Mickelson, whose streak of making 17 straight cuts ended, and defending champion Stuart Appleby. Both finished 3 over, missing the cut by two strokes.
With shouts of encouragement all around him, de Jonge, a former Virginia Tech golfer, is flourishing for the second straight year at The Greenbrier resort, less than two hours from his college stomping grounds.
“It’s a little bit of adrenaline,” de Jonge said. “Keeps you going. It’s always a little pick-me-up if you’re struggling a little bit. It’s fun. It’s nice to hear ‘Go Hokies’ on every tee.”
De Jonge has played the Old White TPC course many times and he finished third in last year’s inaugural tournament at 17 under. It was one of three third-place finishes in 2010 that helped him earn a career-best $2.2 million.
The native of Zimbabwe is the tour leader in birdies, yet admits he needs to work on eliminating the bogeys. His only one Friday was a three-putt on No. 11.
“I think the biggest thing is just getting out of my own way,” de Jonge said. “It’s very, very difficult to win out here. It’s difficult to win anywhere. Staying in your own routine, I guess, is the best way to put it.”
Simpson couldn’t get any momentum going until he made three birdies on the back nine and shot 68.
The former Wake Forest golfer is playing less than five hours from his old campus. He grew up in North Carolina and moved to Charlotte earlier this year.
His own cheering section will get a bit bigger on Saturday.
“I told my wife today I’m going to go out and be in the lead, so you’ve got to come for the weekend,” Simpson said.
Both Simpson and de Jonge are chasing their first career victories. The tournament champion will earn a spot in next week’s Bridgestone Invitational.
Like last year, when Appleby came from a seven-stroke deficit and shot 59 in the final round to win, it’s anyone’s tournament. Thirty-five players were within five shots of the lead entering the third round.
Simpson and de Jonge were the only two of the top 10 from the first round to break par in the second. The cut was three shots higher than last year.
First-round leader Trevor Immelman made just two birdies, shot 70 and was at 6 under.
Looking for his first win since the 2008 Masters and less than two years removed from wrist surgery, Immelman isn’t thinking about how far he has come if he can advance to Bridgestone.
“It would be fantastic,” he said. “And I’d love to be there. But (it’s) the furthest thing from my mind.”
Tied at 5 under were Scott Stallings (65), Michael Letzig (66), Gary Woodland (70), Brian Davis (64) and Derek Lamely (70). Lamely was tied for the lead before a stretch of three bogeys and a double-bogey over seven holes.
Canadian Chris Baryla made five birdies in an eight-hole stretch in his morning round to rocket to the top of the leaderboard at 8 under, then made triple-bogey on the par-4 sixth. He shot 69 and was in a group of six at 4 under.
Australian Steven Bowditch moved to 6 under after an early birdie, but had a double-bogey and three bogeys on his final four holes to fall to even par.
NOTES: Brett Wetterich eagled the par-4 first hole to help him advance to the weekend at even par. ... Garrett Willis had six birdies in his round but made the cut on the line after needing three shots to get out of a fairway bunker on the par-4 11th and making an 8. ... Chris Kirk, who had his tour-best streak of 10 straight below-par rounds snapped with a 71 on Thursday, started another one with a 69 Friday. ... Michael Sim withdrew before the second round with a shoulder injury. Michael Putnam withdrew during the round with an injured wrist.