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October 20, 2013

Simpson holds his lead in Vegas

LAS VEGAS — Webb Simpson was far from comfortable with a four-stroke lead at TPC Summerlin.

“This is a golf course where guys can shoot, as we’ve seen this week, 8, 9, 10, 11 under,” Simpson said. “So, I have to go out with a mindset of attacking and trying to make birdies.”

Simpson maintained his four-shot advantage Saturday in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, birdieing four of the last seven holes for a 4-under 67.

“I think the key tomorrow is to, No. 1, stay patient again in case I do get off to another slow start,” said Simpson, who missed a playoff — that Jonathan Byrd won with a hole-in-one on the fourth extra hole — by a stroke in 2010 after making a double bogey on the par-3 17th.

Making his first start since helping the U.S. win the Presidents Cup, the 2012 U.S. Open champion was 19 under overall. He opened with rounds of 64 and 63.

“The conditions were perfect,” Simpson said. “I knew guys were shooting low numbers. I felt like I was playing good enough. I just was shooting pretty bad — parred 9, dropped the shot at 11. So, it was frustrating. But my caddie just told me to stay patient and let the birdies come. And that’s what happened. I made some putts coming in.”

Chesson Hadley was second after a 67, birdieing the short par-4 15th and following with a hole-out for an eagle on the par-5 16th.

“They waved us up on 15 and I just roasted a driver up there,” Hadley said. “I think it hit perfectly into the hill and dribbled up there to about 10 feet. I hit a good putt. It was just a little to the left, so it was a nice tap-in birdie. So that was good.

“Then I drove it right on 16, and I laid up to the perfect number. And my first thought when I hit it was, ‘Please go a little.’ Then I saw it take the first bounce and it looked like it just one hopped right in the bottom of the stick. That was huge.”

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