Chris Kirk, Webb Simpson share Rocket Mortgage Classic lead

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Chris Kirk drives on the 15th tee during the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament, Friday, July 3, 2020, at the Detroit Golf Club in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

DETROIT – Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau were expected to be contenders at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, taking advantage of a relatively weak field and course by PGA Tour standards.

Chris Kirk was not.

A year after taking a leave of absence from the PGA Tour to address alcohol abuse and depression, though, he has turned around his life and revived his career.

Kirk had a 7-under 65 on Friday to take the second-round lead at the Detroit Golf Club, and Simpson later shot a 64 to pull into a tie atop the leaderboard at 12-under 132.

“I was out there thinking about him a little bit, just with his decision to take some time away from golf and take care of himself," Simpson recalled. “I’m so proud of what he’s been able to do and come back and make the comeback he’s made, winning on the Korn Ferry Tour. And, now he’s out here trying to win a PGA Tour event."

Kirk won a Korn Ferry Tour’ event two weeks ago, using the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit as a springboard to compete again with the world's best players.

When Kirk stopped playing last year, he didn't know what his future was in the sport.

“I kind of just didn’t care at that point," he recalled. “I was focused on doing what I needed to do to be healthy, to be a good husband for my wife and a good father to my kids. I was thankfully in a place financially where my career could wait."