Simpson opens up two-shot lead at Colonial

Webb Simpson shot 3-under-pary 67 to open up a two-stroke lead over Paul Casey of England and Danny Lee of New Zealand in the Dean & DeLuca Invitational in hot, steamy and windy conditions at Colonial Golf Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion seeking his first victory since the 2013 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, posted a 54-hole score of 9-under 201.

“The big thing for me is I was hitting it into the fairway,” Simpson said after making birdies on the first two holes of each nine and taking his only bogey at No. 8. “When you start hitting them in the rough, you start guessing and you’re dealing with jumpers and dealing with the wind. At least in the fairway you’re in control, and so that’s probably why it looked easy. It didn’t feel easy. It’s 100 degrees out there. We were just trying to stay upright.

“The wind was a little less than we’ve seen and the pins were a little bit friendlier. It didn’t seem as hard as yesterday or even Thursday. But that’s the beauty of this golf course. If you’re a little off it’ll expose you pretty quickly. At the same time, you’re going to have a lot of short irons into the greens and you’ll have birdie opportunities if you’re in the fairway.”

Casey sank a 23-foot birdie putt on the final hole to complete a 68, and Lee finished with a 16-foot birdie putt to shoot 69.

Stewart Cink, the 2009 British Open champion, recorded a 66 and is three shots behind in a tie for fourth with Kevin Kisner, who totaled 70 after sharing the 36-hole lead.

Rookie Jon Rahm of Spain and Sean O’Hair both finished at 70 and are another stroke down in a tie for sixth, while defending champion Jordan Spieth climbed into the picture with a 68 that left him five back in a tie for eighth with Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71) of Spain, Emiliano Grillo (65) of Argentina, Bill Haas (68) and Scott Piercy (72).

Phil Mickelson, a two-time champion at Colonial, carded a 69 and is tied for 32nd, and Zach Johnson, who also has won the tournament twice, stumbled to a second straight 75 and is tied for 65th.

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