Chris Kirk, Webb Simpson share Rocket Mortgage Classic lead

Chris Kirk, Webb Simpson share Rocket Mortgage Classic lead

DETROIT — Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau were expected to be contenders at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, taking advantage of a relatively weak field and course by PGA Tour standards.

Chris Kirk was not.

A year after taking a leave of absence from the PGA Tour to address alcohol abuse and depression, though, he has turned around his life and revived his career.

Kirk had a 7-under 65 on Friday to take the second-round lead at the Detroit Golf Club, and Simpson later shot a 64 to pull into a tie atop the leaderboard at 12-under 132.

“I was out there thinking about him a little bit, just with his decision to take some time away from golf and take care of himself,” Simpson recalled. “I’m so proud of what he’s been able to do and come back and make the comeback he’s made, winning on the Korn Ferry Tour. And, now he’s out here trying to win a PGA Tour event.”

Kirk won a Korn Ferry Tour’ event two weeks ago, using the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit as a springboard to compete again with the world’s best players.

When Kirk stopped playing last year, he didn’t know what his future was in the sport.

“I kind of just didn’t care at that point,” he recalled. “I was focused on doing what I needed to do to be healthy, to be a good husband for my wife and a good father to my kids. I was thankfully in a place financially where my career could wait.”

The 35-year-old Kirk has won four times on the PGA Tour, most recently in 2015.

Simpson won the RBC Heritage two weeks ago in South Carolina, finishing at a tournament-record 22-under for his second win of the season and seventh of his career.

He withdrew from the Connecticut event last week because one of his daughters appeared to have COVID-19, but she later tested negative.

Simpson and DeChambeau chose to come to the Motor City while many of the PGA Tour’s top players skipped the tournament.

“It’s a Donald Ross design and guys that played here last year that I talked to about it loved the golf tournament, they loved what Rocket Mortgage did,” Simpson said.

Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., is the lone Canadian to make the 5-under cutline. He fired a 3-under 69 to get to 8 under.

Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., (68) at 4 under, David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., (70) at 3 under and Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont., (71) at 1 under won’t play the wekeend.

In the PGA Tour’s first three events after the COVID-19 pandemic stunted the season, the top five players in the world ranking participated in each tournament.

None of the top five players is at the Detroit Golf Club and the field includes just 18 of the top 50.

Simpson is No. 6 in the world ranking and DeChambeau is No. 10.

Matthew Wolff (64), Seamus Power (66), Mark Hubbard (66), Ryan Armour (64) and Richy Werenski (66) also were a a shot off the lead going into the weekend.

The 21-year-old Wolff put himself in position to take the the lead by himself with six straight birdies and eight over his first 10 holes after missing the cut in each of last two events.

“I’ve learned the last couple weeks you definitely can’t win on the first two days, but you can sure as heck lose,” he said.

The last time the former Oklahoma State star had six straight birdies, he won the 3M Open last year. Wolff joined Tiger Woods and Ben Crenshaw as winners of a PGA Tour event and the individual NCAA title in the same year.

Wolff missed opportunities to score on a pair of par 5s, including his 16th hole. His drive landed on an adjacent hole to the right and his second shot under tree branches caromed off a metal stake and landed in the rough on the left side of the No. 7 fairway.

“It was just one of those shots you kind of have to laugh at,” Wolff said. “It was unfortunate it came on a day that I was hitting it so well, but it’s golf, you can’t hit every shot perfect.”

Defending champion Nate Lashley missed the cut by a stroke as did Jason Day. Patrick Reed, who started the week No. 7 in the world ranking, and Bubba Watson were two shots from making the cut.

___

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

___

Follow Larry Lage at https://twitter.com/LarryLage

Larry Lage, The Associated Press

Golf

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Addressing anti-mask protests poses a challenge for leaders, experts say

Quebec’s COVID-19 case numbers hit their highest numbers since the end of May

Canada’s Kennedy to yesterday’s man: former PM John Turner dead at 91

Politicians and other public figures immediately began sharing memories

Community art project will thank front line workers

Red Deerians are painting hearts to say thank you to frontline workers.… Continue reading

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

The 2020 Global Business Forum in Banff, Alta., will be held as a special hybrid event

New tools, ideas needed to speed up housing strategy funding, CMHC president says

Slow turnaround time on some of its national housing strategy programs

Letter containing ricin sent to White House may have come from Canada: RCMP

The letter contained ricin, a toxic substance found naturally in castor beans

Nunavut reports first confirmed COVID-19 cases, saying both are mine workers

The territory says at this time, there is no evidence of transmission within site

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

The pandemic has shown how heavily Canada relies on migrant and undocumented workers

Wetaskiwin RCMP make arrests for Hit and Run to residence

Damage estimates are expected to be in excess of $20,000.

Former prime minister John Turner dead at 91

TORONTO — Former prime minister John Turner, whose odyssey from a “Liberal… Continue reading

Hay’s Daze: Happy to be left out of the picture

Talk about being out of the loop. Head in the sand. Uninformed,… Continue reading

Most Read