Death, taxes, and Webb Simpson in contention at the Wyndham Championship.
Simpson has finished in the top-3 each of the last four years at Sedgefield Country Club, and he has picked up right where he left off this week.
Simpson started on 10 and made one birdie and one bogey on his first nine, the seven-time Tour winner heated up on the back nine, playing his final five holes in five under to shoot a second consecutive 65.
Simpson’s strong first 36 holes has him in a tie for the lead with Rory Sabbatini, whose run of strong play appears to be continuing after a final round 61 earned him a silver medal in his last start at the Olympics.
“There's always runs on this golf course and I went on a run holes 5 through 9, got 5 under on those holes and I'm excited where I am,” Simpson said. “I'm excited for another good spot going into Saturday here.”
Several PGA Tour stalwarts needed a big week at Sedgefield to make the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which begin with next week’s Northern Trust at Liberty National. Justin Rose has answered the bell through 36 holes.
The 2013 US Open and 2018 FedEx Cup champion backed up his first round 66 with a 65 Friday, putting him one shot behind Simpson, Sabbatini, and Scott Piercy. Rose followed his lone bogey of the day by hitting a towering 4 iron to 12 feet at the par 5 15th (his sixth hole of the day) and rolled in the putt dead center for an eagle. A clinical two under 33 on his back nine has him squarely in contention.
“So far, so good for sure. Objective number one is to make it to the Playoffs,” Rose said. “But if you're playing well this week, I know I need to finish top-10, but at the same time there's no point limiting yourself to that kind of thinking at this point. Winning would go a long way to kind of feel like you can compete in the Playoffs.”
Rose is pleased with his play through two rounds, but he’s not getting ahead of himself quite yet. Playing for a spot in the playoffs is not the kind of pressure Rose wants to be feeling, but he has plenty of experience playing with pressure, which he hopes will allow him to swing freely this weekend.
As far as role models for playing well under pressure, Rose looks to tennis.
“I look at Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer, when they're 15-30 down, they swing for the lines. They don't start chipping it back into the middle of the court, they commit to their shots,” Rose said. “Sometimes I find it easier to learn from other sports than I do in my own arena, probably just stubbornness of looking at other players and wanting to learn from them, but when I see tennis players, they commit 100 percent.”
Rickie Fowler did not have nearly as much success this week. Rounds of 71 and 72 weren’t enough to keep him around for the weekend, meaning Fowler will miss the FedEx Cup playoffs for the first time in his career.
As for where he goes from here, Fowler said he will have a call with his entire team and put together a gameplan for taking advantage of the next few weeks. Fowler tends to remain cool on the golf course and doesn’t show much emotion, but he doesn’t seem deflated after a difficult season.
I'm used to being in contention, ready to go to East Lake and go have some fun through the Playoffs. That's not the case this year. A little kick in the butt. Go home and get ready to go. Like I said, put the work in and get after it,” Fowler said.