Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

July 6, 2012

Spinning a Webb

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Just before play was suspended for darkness, Webb Simpson took the lead of The Greenbrier Classic, shooting a second round 66 to have a two-day 9-under 131 on Friday evening.

A day after V.J. Singh singed the course with a 63, tour rookie Charlie Beljan shot a 62 to take the lead for most of the day. He was later joined by Jonathan Byrd, but Simpson — who won the U.S. Open three weeks ago — made a late charge to take the lead.

Byrd, who shot a 68 on Friday was tied for second place with a two-day total of 132 with Beljan and Jerry Kelly, along with Jeff Maggert and Martin Flores, who were tied for second after the opening round.

Flores still has to finish the final two holes of his second round this morning after play was suspended at approximately 8:45 p.m. due to darkness, with players allowed to finish the hole they were playing.

Flores was one of 12 players who didn’t finish their round.

The projected cut is 1-under par, leaving Tiger Woods (even par), Jim Furyk (even), Phil Mickelson (+2), 2010 champion Stuart Appleby (+3) and past Masters champion Trevor Immelman (+4) free for the weekend.

It was an unusually long day at The Old White TPC as play was halted when thunder and lightning encompassed The Greenbrier around 3:30 p.m.

Golfers teeing off in the afternoon session were about midway through their 18-hole round. After a two-and-a-half hour delay play resumed at 6.

Simpson was unavailable to the media following a round that ended just before the round was suspended.

No one enjoyed their day more than the 27-year-old Beljan, who played at the University of New Mexico. He has missed the cut or withdrawn from eight of the 12 events entered this season.  

“Today was the best day of my career,” said Beljan, who shot a 70 on Thursday, and is the leader in driving distance, averaging 333.3 yards through two rounds. “It was wonderful from the first hole, making birdie, to the last hole, I made bogey, but it still didn’t matter. I shot 62, which was my career low round out here.

“And then to do it on the PGA Tour, each time I tee it up out here is a treat, and then to do something like I did today is really something special. So I’m only halfway there. I look forward to the weekend. I’m sure it’s going to be a zoo and I look forward to it.”

A native of Phoenix, Ariz., Beljan previous played on the Gateway Tour in his home state and is getting accustomed to life on the PGA Tour.

“The Gateway Tour is a mini tour that’s based out of Phoenix. It’s wonderful, you wake up every morning, you have a 30-minute drive, tee off early, you’re back home by 11:00 and you’ve got the rest of the day to do what you want,” Beljan said. “Now all of a sudden I’m getting ready to do a five-week stretch. I’ve never spent five weeks away from home.

“Everything’s a whirlwind, everything’s different. The golf courses are much different, much harder. But it is a treat to be out on the PGA Tour and anybody that tells you otherwise is, I don’t know.”

Beljan is also getting used to the attention, albeit suddenly, of being near the top of the leader board at a PGA event.

“I’ve been out here and playing in front of the people; for me, I love the people. The more people the better because obviously you’re doing something well,”Beljan said.“But I had the media show up and the cameras show up somewhere on my back nine today and I’ve never had that happen, and I just kind of took it with a grain of salt, kept plugging away. It’s wonderful to be out here.”

Byrd, who shot an opening round 64, completed Friday’s 18 holes with a 2-under 68.

“I haven’t been feeling too well lately, so today I felt a little better on the golf course physically and made eight birdies yesterday, five birdies today,” Byrd said. “(I was) a little disappointed in some of the bogeys, I made three bogeys, but anytime I’m making five birdies a round I’m doing a lot of things good.”

Byrd felt that the Old White played differently on Friday, compared to Thursday’s round.

“I thought the golf course played probably a little bit easier today than it did yesterday,” Byrd said. “I made a lot of puts yesterday. I think with the greens holding in the morning, the ball was going a pretty good distance, after about an hour of playing this morning because it was so humid.

“Yesterday in the afternoon, some of those hole locations, if you were coming out of the rough, you just couldn’t get close because the greens were firmer.”

Five birdies propelled Byrd through the second round and two of those, on 15 and 18 were significant in his low score for the round.

“Fifteen, I birdied that hole yesterday, made about a 40-footer today. It was a left pin, which for a guy who draws it, always looks nice, and just came right down on top of the flag, looked like it was going to go in,” he said. “It was about a foot-and-a-half and I made that.

“And then, 18, I made a great wedge, drawing wedge into that pin, another left pin, and made about an eight-footer there.”

Maggert followed a 64 with a 68, while Kelly has had a pair of 66s. Singh, who led the opening round, shot a 74 to drop into a tie for 36th with a 3-under 137.

J.B. Holmes and Charlie Wi are two strokes back with a 133. Defending champion Scott Stallings trails by six shots, having recorded a two-round total of 137.

Sixty-five golfers are within eight strokes of the lead. Five events this season on the PGA Tour have been won by players who have rallied from 6-to-8 strokes behind.

Simpson made a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-3 18th for a 4-under-66.

—Contact Bob Redd

at bredd@bdtonline.com

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