Simpson shoots 61 to take a shot lead over Whee Kim
A rain delay kept Simpson on the golf course 2 hours more than expected, but it did not ruin his mood, it just kept him going and saw him posting 61 for a shot lead over the Korean Whee Kim and the Chilean Amateur Joaquin Niemann.
“I normally have coffee after my round but it’s a little late,” he said, smiling and glancing at his watch. “So I might have to go half coffee.”
A 9 under round at the Old White TPC in West Virginia was a career low for the recent PLAYERS Champion.
“I’ll enjoy the round tonight and talk to my wife about it,” Simpson said as he glanced at his watch. “But there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Simpson’s round took off as he made the turn with three straight birdies, starting at the ninth hole and a chip-in eagle at No. 12. That spurt moved him to 7 under and soon birdies at Nos. 14 and 16 had the crowd on full 59 alert.
“You don’t ever expect those runs to come,” Simpson said. “But you know on a course like this – it has its challenges but it also will give you plenty of opportunities to hit wedges into these greens and they’re pretty soft.
“So you know at any time you can possibly go on a run.”
In 2010, during the final round of the inaugural Greenbrier Classic, Stuart Appleby became the fifth player in the history to shoot a 59 in an Official PGA Tour event, which he won by a shot over Jeff Overton.
Another 59 shooter Jim Furyk playing at the event stayed T-44 with 68 on Thursday.
Simpson has played in every tournament at The Greenbrier, posting a trio of top 10s, including a solo third in 2014. He knows better than get too far ahead of himself, though, particularly with a dicey forecast for Friday.
“I think emotionally tomorrow I’ll come out the exact same as if I shot 71 or a 68,” Simpson said. “Go out there and try to put another solid round together and see where, what, the other guys do.”
Following him with a shot is Korean Whee Kim with 62 on the board and he is followed by the Chilean Amateur Joaquin Niemann at 63.
Anirban Lahiri posted 67 for a T-24 finish of his opening round after a T-9 finish at the Travelers Championship, eventually won by Bubba Watson.
He is joined by a long 19 men list of Steve Marino, Danny Lee, Fabian Gomez, Dominic Bozzelli, Abraham Ancer, Cameron Percy, Joel Dahmen, Blayne Barber, Jonathan Randolph, Brett Stegmaier, Corey Conners, Harris English, Ryan Armour, Peter Malnati, Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Jamie Lovemark, Bronson Burgoon, and Danny McCarthy.