JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Webb Simpson didn’t mind a long day of golf the way he was playing Friday at The Barclays.
Simpson ran off six birdies in an eight-hole stretch to cap a 29-hole marathon at Liberty National that put him atop the leaderboard among the top half of the draw that finished the second round.
“It’s much nicer when you’re playing well to keep playing. And when you’re playing well, you feel like you could play 40 holes in a day,” Simpson said. “My main goal … I just wanted to get done today. It just felt nice to putt out on 9, knowing that I’ve got tonight to sleep and catch up on rest.”
Simpson was at 9-under 133. Among those who finished the second round, he was two shots ahead of Keegan Bradley (63), Rickie Fowler (64) and Adam Scott, who was tied for the lead until a lazy finish gave him a 66.
Phil Mickelson, trying to retool his game after his British Open win, had a 69 and was seven shots behind.
Tiger Woods, the No. 1 player in the world and in the standings for the FedEx Cup playoffs, was among the later starters. He already had three birdies through six holes and was making up ground on Simpson, who didn’t expect to be the 36-hole leader when the second round was completed Saturday morning.
The tournament was thrown behind because of two rain delays that lasted a combined six hours Thursday.
Simpson only played seven holes the opening day — five of them birdies — and played even par the rest of the first round. He didn’t get it going until his second nine, when he made six birdies until dropping a shot on his final hole.
The players who finished 36 holes Friday had the tougher end of the draw. It was blustery when they returned in the morning, and the wind did not die until they were finished — just about the time Woods, 18-hole leader Kevin Stadler, Rory McIlroy and others were starting out.
“A lot of guys are playing good golf, and my guess is at the end of two rounds, I won’t be leading because there are a lot of birdie holes,” Simpson said. “The par 5s are reachable. I think that I have to keep playing well and keep making birdies. And I think a really low score is going to win this golf tournament.”
The last time The Barclays was at Liberty National, Heath Slocum won at 9-under 275. Since then, some of the landing areas were widened and the slopes on the greens were softened. Plus, the course was very little rough this year. And the soft conditions from the rain Thursday is making it easier to make birdies.
Bradley made eight of them, which turned his fortunes.
He hit out-of-bounds on the 18th hole to wrap up his first round, and had to scramble for double bogey. The former PGA champion put that behind him quickly, however, running four birdies on each nine for the lowest score at Liberty National.
“They put some of the pins in some bowls, and I know they want to get us around the course and finished up as early as possible,” Bradley said. “But this is not an easy golf course — 62 or 63 is not an easy score no matter what the conditions.”
Fowler was 6 under over a five-hole stretch on the back nine, which included a 35-foot birdie putt and a chip-in for eagle. He cooled after that, though it was still enough to put him in good shape for the weekend. Scott hit a 6-iron from 217 yards to 15 feet on the sixth hole that set up an eagle.
For some players, their year was over.
Ben Crane, after opening with a 67, had to withdraw with a lower back injury after playing just four holes of the second round. At No. 125 in the FedEx Cup, he won’t be among the 100 players advancing to the second playoff event next week outside Boston.
Lucas Glover withdrew with a hand injury, ending his season.
The cut would not be made until Saturday morning, and Erik Compton needed two more rounds to try to qualify for the next tournament. He did his part, a birdie-birdie finish to get back to even-par 142. That was right on the line for making the cut.