Webb Simpson secures solo lead with closing eagle at TPC Boston

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Webb Simpson secures solo lead with closing eagle at TPC Boston

PGA Tour

Webb Simpson secures solo lead with closing eagle at TPC Boston

NORTON, Mass. – Labor Day weekend means backyard cookouts, trips to the beach and the unofficial end of summer. But for most of the day on Saturday a pair of Englishmen, Tyrrell Hatton and Justin Rose, were having a party at the top of the leaderboard at the Dell Technologies Championship.

Then, as the last of the late-summer sunshine poured over the 18th hole, Webb Simpson, the winner of the Players Championship, drained a 71-foot eagle putt that vaulted him to 11 under and into sole possession of the lead, a shot ahead of Hatton and Rose.

“The grass around the greens is firm enough to where the ball runs pretty smoothly,” Simpson said when asked putting from the fridge on the last hole. “You’ve just got to hit it a little harder than you would on the greens. I didn’t like my lie to chip it. I decided to putt it, and it came off really nice, just how I wanted it.”

Simpson’s 63 matched the score Hatton posted earlier in the day. (And yes, Hatton is still using the putter that he bought last week at Golf Galaxy. Sort of.)

Hatton shed more light on the story Saturday, admitting that he was too embarrassed to go to the store himself, so he sent his caddie, Mark Crane. The two used WhatsApp video chat to talk as Crane bought the putter.

“The putter has been good. I’m more comfortable with it,” Hatton said. “Obviously I’ve got a bit of confidence with how I putted last Sunday. So it’s nice to see the ball go in.”

Justin Rose, who started on the 10th hole, made several good putts as he played his morning round, including a pair of long birdie putts on 17 and 18 that jumpstarted his round.

“The course (played) a little bit easier today. I noticed that by some of the front nines that the guys were playing,” Rose said after signing for his 67. “Guys were getting to 8 under par and when I would make a birdie I would notice that I wasn’t going ahead of the field, I was just staying with the field. That was the intention today was to try and make birdies.”

Rose’s sense for the course was spot on. The scoring average Friday in the first round was 71.144, but dropped to 69.845 on Saturday, mainly because the swirling winds subsided.

“The greens just actually took us by surprise how firm they got,” said Tommy Fleetwood, whose 65 moved him into solo fourth at 8 under. “We’ve had weeks where we haven’t played like a firm golf course or firm greens. So that was a little shock to the system. And today there were a few nicer pins, the wind wasn’t up as much. It was more gettable. The scores kind of show it.”

Cameron Smith and Abraham Ancer are tied for fifth at 7 under and nine players, including Jordan Spieth, J.B. Holmes, Keegan Bradley and Rafa Cabrera Bello, are tied for seventh at 6 under.

Tiger Woods, who has a new putter in the bag this week, shot a bogey-free 66 on Saturday that included birdie putts from 10 and 25 feet. He will go into the weekend seven shots off the lead at 4 under.

“I feel like really more comfortable and confident with this putter,” Woods said. “My hands remember this swing of the putter and the release of it. And I just feel more comfortable with it and right now, I’m letting it rip. Some of the putts, the bad ones are lipping out and the good ones are lipping in. Last week they were not, the bad ones didn’t have a chance and the good ones were lipping out. So I’ve made some nice progress the last week.”

Only the players ranked in the top 70 on the FedEx Cup point list after the conclusion of play on Monday will qualify to compete next week at the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club in Philadelphia.

Nine golfers who arrived at TPC Boston this week ranked 71 or higher missed the cut, including Jason Dufner, Jhonattan Vegas and Ollie Schniederjans.

The table below shows the players who started this week ranked No. 60 through No. 100, along with their projected point totals after two rounds at the Dell Technologies Championship.

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