Golf Roundup: Simpson’s late eagle gives him lead at TPC Boston

NORTON, Mass. (AP) — The putt is one that Webb Simpson never practices enough. He wasn’t sure it even required his putter.

He worked it to perfection.

From just over 70 feet away off the green on the par-5 18th, Simpson rolled in the eagle putt for an 8-under 63 to take a one-shot lead Saturday at the halfway point of the Dell Technologies Championship.

“You just kind of laugh at those because you’re not trying to make them, you’re just trying to get them close,” Simpson said. “The grass around the greens is firm enough to where the ball runs pretty smoothly. 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.”

A gorgeous Saturday in New England allowed for low scoring at the TPC Boston.

Tyrrell Hatton of England had eight birdies with his store-bought putter for a 63 and was one shot behind, along with Justin Rose (67). Tommy Fleetwood made it a trio of Englishman near the top with his 65, leaving him three shots behind.

Tiger Woods got into the act, too.

Woods only once came close to bogey, making a 12-foot par putt on the par-3 11th hole, and gave himself ample opportunities in his round of 66. It was an important day to move forward with conditions ripe for scoring, though he still was seven shots behind Simpson.

“I’ve got some work to do still,” Woods said. “This is a golf course you can’t sit still on. You have to keep making birdies. You have to keep getting after it. Conditions are going to be like this the rest of the weekend. You’re going to see plenty of birdies out there.”

Simpson was at 11-under 131, worth little more than pole position going into the final two days before the Labor Day finish.

Ten players were assured of their season ending by missing the cut, meaning they will not finish among the top 70 to advance to the third event in the FedEx Cup playoffs next week outside Philadelphia.

Simpson, who won The Players Championship in a landslide in May, is at No. 9 and already assured of being among the top 30 in the Tour Championship.

He is more interested in doing well enough, often enough, to be consistently among the elite.

“I don’t want to just have a couple of good years and have it go away for two years,” Simpson said. “There are a few guys that are always top 10 in the world. I want to do that.”

A lot of those guys are still in the hunt at the TPC Boston.

Jordan Spieth showed signs of getting on track, despite opening with two straight bogeys. He ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch after making the turn, and saved par from a bunker on the other, and had a 67 to be in the large group at five shots behind.

Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. 1 player, missed several birdie chances and shot 69. He was six behind.

Hatton is riding a hot streak with his $149 putter that he bought last week before the final round at Ridgewood Country Club.

Well, the putter his caddie bought. Hatton wanted to shake up his short game, but the equipment trucks had already left and he was too embarrassed to be seen in a golf store shopping for a new putter, even if not many in Paramus, New Jersey, would have recognized him.

His caddie headed to a Golf Galaxy store, using a video app so Hatton could look at the options.

“Obviously, he made a good choice,” Hatton said.

Abraham Ancer of Mexico was poised to get within one shot until he chipped across the 18th green and into a bunker, and then missed a 4-foot par putt and had to settle for a 69 that left him three shots off the lead, along with Cameron Smith of Australia (66).

It’s a big week for Ancer, who is No. 92 in the FedEx Cup and needs to move into the top 70 to advance to next week outside Philadelphia. After that, the top 30 make it to the Tour Championship for the FedEx Cup finale.

“I don’t play well, I’m not playing any golf next week,” Ancer said. “I’m not trying to put any extra pressure. I know what I need to do. And I just need to execute my game plan and it will be fine.”

Tony Finau had five birdies over his last eight holes for a 68, which might help his cause involving another cup — the Ryder Cup. U.S. captain Jim Furyk makes three of his four wild-card picks on Tuesday, and Finau entered the equation with a runner-up finish last week.

Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain didn’t hurt his chances, either.

The four European selections are Wednesday. Cabrera Bello chose to play in the FedEx Cup playoff event at the TPC Boston instead of going to Denmark with one last chance to qualify. He had another 68 and was at 6 under, which is sure to get the attention of European captain Thomas Bjorn.

Made In Denmark

AARHUS, Denmark — Lee Westwood moved in sight of his first win in more than four years after taking a one-stroke lead in the Made In Denmark event after a 5-under 67 in the third round.

The 45-year-old Westwood, a former world No. 1, will be a vice-captain for Europe at the Ryder Cup in Paris this month and his impressive performance this week looks like ending two fellow Englishmen’s hopes of getting in the team.

Matthew Fitzpatrick and Eddie Pepperell need to win to stand a chance of snatching the final automatic place in the Europe team via the world points list but they are off the leaderboard at Silkeborg Ry Golf Club.

Fitzpatrick shot 67 and was 10 under overall, six strokes behind Westwood.

Pepperell is surely out of contention after a 74 that dropped him into a tie for 61st place, 13 shots off the lead.

It means Thorbjorn Olesen, who occupies the final Ryder Cup qualifying spot, is set to make the team for the first time ahead of Fitzpatrick and Pepperell. The Dane, who shot 67 in the third round, was on 7 under overall.

The last of Westwood’s 23 wins on the European Tour came at the Malaysian Open in April 2014.

He made five straight birdies from the 10th hole and was 18 under heading to the 18th tee. An errant tee shot led to a double-bogey 6 but Westwood ended the day in the lead after Jonathan Thomson, the first-round leader, also made 6 at the last for a 68.

Thomson was in a tie for second place with Belgium’s Thomas Detry and England’s Steven Brown, who shot 63 for the lowest round of the week.

Shaw Charity Classic

CALGARY, Alberta — Joe Durant eagled the par-5 18th for a 7-under 63 and a one-stroke lead over Miguel Angel Jimenez in the PGA Tour Champion’s Shaw Charity Classic.

Durant birdied the first four holes on the back nine and bogeyed the par-4 15th before pulling ahead with the 15-foot eagle putt from the fringe on 18.

Durant had an 11-under 129 total. The four-time PGA Tour champion won the Chubb Classic in Florida in February for his third senior title.

Jimenez birdied the final two holes for a 66. The Spaniard has six victories on the 50-and-over tour, winning major titles this year in the Regions Tradition and Senior British Open. He finished second behind Scott McCarron last year at Canyon Meadows.

“The golf course is in nice condition, it’s very fair,” Jimenez said. “You hit a got shot, you have a chance to make birdie. The greens are rolling very well.”

Kirk Triplett, tied for the first-round lead with Jimenez after a 64, had a 67 to drop two strokes back at 9 under. He has six senior titles, teaming with Paul Broadhurst to win the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf in April.

McCarron was fourth at 8 under after a 65.

“Making a putt on the last hole was the highlight because I missed everything I looked at it seemed like,” McCarron said. “I’m hitting the ball well.”

Esteban Toledo (67) was another stroke back, and Bernhard Langer eagled the par-5 11th in a 65 to join Doug Garwood (63), Joey Sindelar (67) and Scott Parel (67) at 6 under.

“I played really good today, really played great,” Langer said. “Could have shot 8 or 10 under, just didn’t make any putts. But the course was tough early. It was cold and windy, blowing 12, 15 mph out of the north, which is pretty cold.”

Parel won the Boeing Classic last week in Washington for his first tour title.

Canadian Rod Spittle, competing in his final tour event at age 63, was tied for 10th at 5 under after a 69. He opened with a 66.

Senior newcomer Darren Clarke (66) and Davis Love III (68) were 4 under. Vijay Singh was 1 under after a 69.

Web.com Tour Finals

BEECHWOOD, Ohio — Kramer Hickok shot a 2-under 68 to keep a one-stroke lead in the DAP Championship, the second of four Web.com Tour Finals events that will determine 25 PGA Tour cards.

One of 25 players who have already earned PGA Tour cards through the Web.com Tour’s regular-season money list, Hickok had a 12-under 198 total at Canterbury Golf Club. He matched the course record Thursday with a 63, and had a 67 on Friday.

“I really didn’t get myself too far out of position,” Hickok said. “I had one bogey today and it was just one bad drive, but the rest of the day, it was just easy pars. Just a consistent day all around. I didn’t get myself in trouble and I wasn’t too stressed.”

Hickok was 23rd on the regular-season list, and jumped from 23rd to 13th last week in Ohio with a tie for 14th in the series opener. The 26-year-old former University of Texas player was the 2017 Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada player of the year, winning twice.

“I really want to get a win,” Hickok said. “I’ve had a second and a third this year and I’ve been in the lead going in the back nine and finished a little short. I would love to get a win.”

Germany’s Stephan Jaeger remained second after a 68.

“I didn’t get off to a great start, honestly, but I just hung in there,” Jaeger said. “I had good putts on Nos. 7 and 8 and finally made one on No. 9 that kind of got me going a little bit.”

South Korea’s Sangmoon Bae, a two-time PGA Tour winner, was third at 9 under after a 69.

Six-time PGA Tour winner Hunter Mahan had a 65 to move into a tie for fourth at 8 under with five-time PGA Tour champion Ben Crane (69), Justin Hueber (66), Brian Campbell (67), Peter Malnati (68) and Matt Jones (69).

The series features the top 75 players — Hueber was 42nd, Campbell 75th — from the Web.com regular-season money list, and Nos. 126-200 — Crane was 148th, Jones 151st, Mahan 159th, Malnati 161st, Jaeger 165th and Bae 207th — in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings.

Hickok and the other top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for 25 cards based on series earnings.

“I feel like if I was in their shoes, I would have a little more pressure,” Hickok said. “I feel like there would be more weight on my shoulders in order to play well. Being in my shoes, I have everything locked up and ready to go. I can’t move backwards, so all I can do is go out and play good golf.”