June 19, 2020 / 5:54 PM / 17 days ago

Golf-Hot putter helps Simpson grab clubhouse lead at Harbour Town

June 19 (Reuters) - Former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson delivered a putting master class to grab the early second-round clubhouse lead at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina on Friday.

Simpson mixed nine birdies with three bogeys for a six-under-par 65 that left him at 12 under for the week at Harbour Town course on Hilton Head Island and one shot clear of Bryson DeChambeau (64) and Canadian Corey Conners (63).

“I had a few par savers that kind of kept my momentum going, but I did drop three shots, all kind of physical errors,” said world No. 9 Simpson. “I’m thinking well right now, so I’d rather physical errors than mental errors.”

Simpson, who started on the back nine alongside DeChambeau and Davis Love III, hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation and made 186 feet worth of putts, including a 38-foot birdie at the par-four 18th.

He recovered in style after a bogey at the par-three seventh with a 19-foot birdie at his penultimate and a six-footer at the last following a brilliant approach shot from 114 yards.

DeChambeau, who has been crushing balls since returning from the PGA Tour’s three-month COVID-19 hiatus with a bulked-up physique, bogeyed his opening hole but was flawless the rest of the way with eight birdies.

DeChambeau made six birdies over an eight-hole stretch on the front nine and felt he could have gone lower if he could get more consistent with his putter.

“I still haven’t figured out something with my putting. I’ve got to figure some stuff out because a couple years ago, I was rolling it the best I’ve ever rolled it,” said DeChambeau.

“I have good moments and bad moments now. I want to tighten that dispersion with putting, and I’d be a couple more up there.”

Overnight co-leaders Ian Poulter and Mark Hubbard were among the late starters.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who was one over in the first round, also went out late with Rickie Fowler and defending champion Pan Cheng-tsung of Taiwan and will have work to do as the projected cut is currently at three under. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Tom Brown)

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