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

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Three young Sylvan Lake residents are asking for lights to be added to the walking trail system to make them safer and less scary at night. Photo by @workinonmyfitness72
Young Sylvan Lake residents ask for lights to be added to walking trails

Three young Sylvan Lake residents appeared before Council recently to present their ask

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Alberta government photo)
Town of Sylvan Lake recieves funding to help with COVID-19 related revenue losses

Minister Devin Dreeshen says the funding will help the Town pay staff and provide services

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo by The Associated Press)
Alberta records 410 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read