Simpson opens McGladrey in 63

By Doug FergusonOctober 13, 2011, 5:19 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Webb Simpson signed up for the McGladrey Classic because it gave him a shot at winning the PGA Tour money title. He played Thursday as though he was intent on doing just that.

Simpson matched his best score of the year in the opening round at Sea Island, making eight birdies for a 7-under 63 that gave him a share of the lead with tour rookie Zack Miller.

'There's no way I can play this golf tournament without thinking about the money title,' Simpson said. 'I'm thinking about it every day. But I'm not over every shot thinking, `This is for the money title.' It's more that I'm just trying my best to get focused on winning the golf tournament.'

At this rate, he stands a reasonable chance at both.

Simpson has won twice in his last five tournaments, leaving him $68,971 behind Luke Donald on the money list with two tournaments remaining. Donald isn't playing this week, and he has until 5 p.m. Friday to decide whether to play Disney next week in the final event of the PGA Tour season.

Also at stake is the PGA Tour player of the year award, with no clear favorite. No player has more than two wins and, while Donald has only one win in the United States, he has been No. 1 in the world since May. For Donald and Simpson, the money title could go a long way in collecting votes.

Simpson needs to finish at least in 15th place alone to surpass Donald, although he looked as if he had bigger plans the way he worked his way around the Seaside course, even as the breeze picked up late in the morning.

Deliberate by nature, Simpson at times switched clubs two or three times, although it paid off on the fourth hole when he went back to a 7-iron and dropped his shot some 4 feet from the cup for a birdie. The only glitch was a poor approach from the middle of the 18th fairway in the middle of his round for a bogey.

Simpson isn't alone in having money on his mind this week.

Miller is trying not to think about it. He hasn't made a cut since the Viking Classic in July and has fallen to No. 146 on the money list. If he doesn't get into the top 150, he'll have to return to the second stage of Q-school.

But he has tried to take whatever positives he could find out of the last few months, learning to base happiness on something besides his scores. It was hard not to be happy with a 63, especially after going birdie-birdie-eagle early in his round, the longest of those a 4-footer for eagle on No. 15 after a perfect 5-iron.

Martin Piller was tied for the lead until a bogey on the last hole put him in a large group at 64. That included Scott McCarron, who is No. 163 on the money list and birdied his last three holes. McCarron, like so many others in the Fall Series events, is trying to get inside the top 125 to secure his full PGA Tour card for next year.

Also at 64 was Billy Horschel, who is No. 139 on the money list.

They were followed by a group at 65 that included two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, Ben Crane, Nick O'Hern and Richard S. Johnson of Sweden. Johnson had to go through Q-school last year, and started the year with a nagging injury to his right shoulder. He continued to play because he couldn't afford to fall further down the priority list, and it has cost him.

Johnson is at No. 186 on the money list, headed back to Q-school unless he can turn around his fortunes quickly.

'Now I've got to get back to my old swing,' he said. 'When you're swinging injured, you get into some bad habits. I've been playing nicely at home, but it's just a matter of bringing it out here.'

That sounds a lot like Tiger Woods, and Johnson also plays out of the Medalist Club in south Florida.

'I haven't shot a 62 yet,' he said, referring to Woods' setting the course record two weeks ago. 'It's been more like 65 and 66.'

Either way, those scores don't count when it comes to playing the tour and needing to make something happen quickly.  

Bud Cauley, the 21-year-old who left Alabama after his junior season to turn pro this summer, opened with a 68. Cauley is poised to become only the sixth player to go from college to getting his tour card without going through Q-school. He is the equivalent of No. 114 on the money list, and a solid start only helped that cause.

Simpson was as deliberate over his schedule as he is over a golf shot. He said he had some 15 options to consider because of his plans to go overseas for the first time, which includes the Presidents Cup in Australia. He has settled on the Singapore Open a week before the Nov. 17-20 matches at Royal Melbourne.

There was some consideration for Asia, although once he adjusted his international travel to make room for the McGladrey Classic, it was an easy decision.

Even so, he had to switch from vacation mode to find the game that brought him wins in Greensboro and Boston, and it didn't take long once he left the practice range.

'I did have a little question in my mind, `Would I be able to turn the brain back on and get in the competitive mode again?'' Simpson said.

He answered with a 63, matching the score he posted in the third and final round at Plainfield in The Barclays.

Divots: Matt Kuchar, who has earned more than $9 million on the PGA Tour in the last two years, has signed with Excel Sports Management and will be represented by Mark Steinberg. Kuchar joins a golf stable that includes Tiger Woods and former U.S. Women's Amateur champion Danielle Kang. ... Tournament host Davis Love III has his son, 17-year-old Dru, caddying for him this week. Love opened with a 69. ... Rickie Fowler, coming off his first professional win last week in South Korea, shot 73.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm