De Jonge, Simpson take charge

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Brendon de Jonge, happily back at a venue where he finished third last year, has charged into a share of the Greenbrier lead.

Brendon de Jonge, enjoying being back on a course where he finished third in last year’s inaugural Greenbrier Classic, has charged into a share of the lead.

This on a day when one of America’s best, Phil Mickelson, has missed the cut.

De Jonge, a burly Zimbabwean, posted a sparkling 3-under 67 on the unforgiving Old White TP course in West Virginia in Friday’s second round to leapfrog his South African neighbour Trevor Immelman, the overnight leader, and join American Webb Simpson on top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend.

De Jonge shrugged away an early bogey to post four birdies and take his total to seven-under 133. Simpson, in the meantime, had drained a six-foot birdie putt at the last for a 68.

Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion who had set the first-round pace with a sizzling 64, was a further stroke back after stumbling a little with a level-par 70.

De Jonge, who has been knocking on the door to a first US PGA Tour title for some time now and had opened with a 66, was upbeat with the quality of golf he had played.

“I started out a little bit shaky but I made some good pars at the beginning of the round and got some momentum going,” he said

“It was nice. I felt like I had pretty good control of the ball.”

The Zimbabwean’s best PGA Tour finish was his third place in last year’s Greenbrier Classic and he said he had liked the par-70 layout at this picturesque resort venue in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains from the first time he had played it.

“I felt comfortable here from the start and I love the changes (made since last year),” said de Jonge, who had played his college golf at nearby Virginia Tech.

“It feels good out there. It’s a comfortable place for me.”

De Jonge posted three top-three finishes on the PGA Tour last year and believes he simply needs “to stay out of my own way” if he going to pull off a long-awaited breakthrough victory in the US.

“It’s very, very difficult to win out here; it’s difficult to win anywhere; but especially here,” he said. “The biggest thing is just getting out of my own way.

“Staying in your own routine may be the best way to put it.”

Britain’s Brian Davis birdied five of his last nine holes for a scintillating 64 to lie two shots off the pace where he is tied with Americans Gary Woodland (70), Michael Letzig (66), Derek Lamely (70) and Scott Stallings (65).

The cut fell at one-over 141, with four-time major champion Mickelson the biggest name to get the axe – his first missed cut this year in 15 PGA Tour starts.

Oddly enough, he wasn’t “disappointed at all” with his mix of six bogey and three consecutive birdies from the 12th and actually said, “I played really well, hit a lot of good golf shots.”

“I hit a few shots on the front nine that were actually really good shots but left me no chance to recover and I ended up trying to come back, but fell a couple of shots shy there.”

Mickelson was in good company.

Former major winner Justin Leonard, along with the current American and European Davis Cup captains, Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal, also both former major winners, plus last year’s Greenbrier Classic champion Stuart Appleby of Australia, also missed the cut.

TOP 10 LEADERBOARD

133 Brendon De Jonge (Zim) 66 67, Webb Simpson (US) 65 68

134 Trevor Immelman (RSA) 64 70

135 Michael Letzig (US) 69 66, Scott Stallings (US) 70 65, Gary Woodland (US) 65 70,Brian Davis (Eng) 71 64, Derek Lamely (US) 65 70

136 John Merrick (US) 69 67, Charles Howell III (US) 68 68, Chris Baryla (Can) 67 69, Aron Price (Aus) 69 67, Chris Couch (US) 68 68, Chez Reavie (US) 67 69

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