LAS VEGAS — Webb Simpson opened a four-stroke lead Friday in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, taking advantage of perfect scoring conditions at TPC Summerlin.
Making his first start since helping the U.S. win the Presidents Cup, the 2012 U.S. Open champion shot an 8-under 63 to reach 15 under. He had nine birdies and a bogey — on the par-5 16th in his opening nine.
“The ball is really going far,” Simpson said. “I was wondering why the scores were so low yesterday morning because I thought the ball might go a little shorter. But the ball was getting out there and the golf course played a little shorter than I thought it would, and I just putted well and kept going.”
The 63 matched the lowest round of his PGA Tour career.
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“There’s no wind, no clouds in the sky and it’s really quiet, so it’s easy to kind of daydream,” Simpson said. “You’ve really got to focus on what you’re doing and talk to your caddie, at least for me. I talk to him about what we’re trying to do here, where we’re trying to hit the ball.”
The four-stroke lead broke the tournament second-round record of three set by Lon Hinkle in 1984 and matched by Seattle’s Rick Fehr in 1996 — both when the event was 90 holes.
J.J. Henry followed his course-record 60 with a 71 to join John Senden, Jeff Overton, Chesson Hadley and Jason Bohn at 11 under. Bohn had a 64, Senden and Hadley shot 66, and Overton had a 68.
“I need to keep on making birdies out there,” Senden said. “It’s not as much building a score, it’s just about doing a great job on making birdies.”
Hadley, the Web.com Tour Championship winner last month, is making his fourth career PGA Tour start.
“It was a great day,” Hadley said. “It’s been a fantastic start to the week, and to be at 11 under and to have a chance going into the weekend is awesome. I’ve been in this position before as far as Web.com Tour, and certainly a little bit different stage out here on the PGA Tour. Just looking to manage the nerves tomorrow and just realize it’s just golf, and let’s just go have some fun.”
Henry had three bogeys and a birdie on his first four holes.
Defending champion Ryan Moore, out of Puyallup, and Russell Knox were 10 under. Moore shot 63, and Knox had a 65.
Kevin Penner of Sammamish had a 65 for a 6-under 136 and is tied for 28th. Richard H. Lee, a former Husky, had a 69 for a 139 and is tied for 58th.
Four local golfers missed the cut. Andres Gonzales (67) of Olympia, Alex Prugh (68) of Spokane and Kyle Stanley (73) of Gig Harbor all finished at 2-under 140, missing by one stroke. Michael Putnam of Tacoma had a 69 for an even-par 142 to miss as well.
• Bernhard Langer birdied the final hole for a 6-under 64 and a share of the first-round lead with Anders Forsbrand and Dick Mast in the Greater Hickory Classic in Conover, N.C. Langer, a two-time winner this season on the 50-and-over tour, and Forsbrand each had seven birdies and a bogey, while Mast had six birdies in a bogey-free round on the reconfigured Rock Barn Golf and Spa layout. Seattle’s Rick Fehr had a 75 and is 80th.
• Amy Yang overcame early jitters while playing in her home country, shooting a 5-under 67 to finish in a four-way tie for the lead after the first round of the KEB HanaBank Championship in Incheon, South Korea. She was tied with Katherine Hull-Kirk of Australia, South Korean compatriot Ju Young Pak and Anna Nordqvist of Sweden.
• Peter Hedblom shot a 3-under 69 to take a two-stroke lead after two rounds of the Perth International in Australia. The Swede, who is at 7-under 137, is two strokes ahead of Ross Fisher, who had the lowest round of the day with a 5-under 67.