With a 4-under 68, Simpson moved two shots behind Angel Cabrera, the first-round leader.
Simpson lives in Charlotte and is a member at Quail Hollow Golf Club, home to this week’s event.
“I've learned to use all the energy from all the people here supporting me in a good way,” said Simpson, a Wake Forest graduate who won the 2012 U.S. Open. “It makes it more fun when you play well, so I relax, in a sense, because I know it so well. I know the golf course, and I know the breaks, and it's relaxing knowing I don't have to play that hard.”
Simpson missed the cut at Quail Hollow the first two years he played here, in 2009 and ’10. He finished fourth here two years ago.
“This is one of those spots where I don't put too much pressure on myself to win, but it would definitely be a sweet one to get done and hopefully more after that,” Simpson said.