Former Open Champ Simpson Tries Again at Q-School

By Golf Channel NewsroomNovember 30, 2004, 5:00 pm
PGA TourIf you want to know about the U.S. Open, hes the man to talk to. Scott Simpson won it in 1987, you know. He finished second in 1991. He could always play well at The Big One, owning top-10 finishes in 88 and 89 in addition to the two big years of 87 and 91.
 
But he broke his ankle skiing in 1999, and doctors later inserted a plate and seven screws in 2001 when it didn't heal properly. And this week he will get a first-hand knowledge of the PGA Tours Qualifying Tournament.
 
Now 49 years old, he attended Q-School the first time in the fall of 1978 ' 25 years ago. The first round of the six-round event starts Wednesday at PGA West in La Quinta, Cal., on the Nicklaus and Stadium courses.
 
Simpson earned his spot by making it through pre-qualifying at Beaumont, Cal., in the Los Angeles area. He shot 68 in the fourth and final round to squeeze in by one stroke.
 
He confesses he has thought several times about quitting the game altogether.
 
I used to think about that when I was playing sometimes, he conceded. All it takes is a few bad weeks and most of us out here think about how lousy it is to be travelling and when you are missing cuts it gets really old sometimes.
 
A total of 169 golfers strike out on the Q-School trail, and a lot of them have been there before.
 
Matt Kuchar, who will try to regain his card after winning at Honda in 2002, will also be there. So will Swedens Per-Ulrik Johannson, five-time winner Ken Green and two-time champ Olin Browne.
 
Guy Boros and Carl Paulson are two of the qualifiers who made it at St. Augustine, Fla., while Jay Don Blake also survived at Beaumont. The real story from Beaumont might have been Billy Harvey of Las Vegas, Nev., though. Harvey was on life support through three rounds when he suddenly shot a sizzling 61 in the finale. That enabled him to make the field at PGA West by two strokes.
 
Jay Haas son, Bill Haas, made the field in Seaside, Cal., as did D.A. Weibrings son, Matt Weibring, at Kingwood, Texas, outside Houston. Others from Kingwood who advanced to the finals include tour vets Bill Glasson, Dan Forsman and Jim Gallagher, Jr. Brian Watts, who nearly won the British Open in 1998 when Mark OMeara prevailed, also made the final field from Kingwood.
 
European Tour standout Philip Price from Wales easily made it from the qualifier at McKinney, Texas, finishing in a tie for second. Russ Cochran and Dicky Pride both made it at Panama City, Fla., and Jay Delsing and Jim McGovern advance from Seaside. McGovern had an outstanding qualifying tourney with a tie for second.
 
On the other hand, several tour veterans will go another season without their tour card when they failed to advance. Among them is 1987 Masters champion Larry Mize, who missed by one shot making the field from Panama City, Fla.
 
Also missing at Panama City were Mike Donald, who went into a playoff with Hale Irwin for the U.S. Open title in 1990, and tour winner Nolan Henke. Casey Martin and Gary Hallberg both missed at Seaside, Cal., by two shots. Keith Clearwater was another miss at Seaside.
 
Donnie Hammond, Pat Bates, Gene Sauers, David Gossett and Ted Tryba couldnt make it through the St. Augustine, Fla., qualifier. Blaine McCallister started at St. Augustine with scores of 69 and 71 and appeared in good shape. However, he went through nightmarish back-to-back rounds of identical 75s to miss out in St. Augustine.
 
A trio of well-known tour veterans, Willie Wood, Mark Wiebe, and David Frost, failed at McKinney. And the mystery continues for Bryce Molder, who was such a great collegian at Georgia Tech but who failed again at Kingwood near Houston.
 
In Beaumont, Steve Pate and Rick Fehr failed to advance. T.C. Chen ' remember the double chip after he was leading by four stokes in the final round of the 85 U.S. Open? ' didnt make it to PGA West. Mike Hulbert shot 70-70-68 in the first three rounds and one more round of 70 would have cleared the barrier by a stroke. But Hulbert faltered, shooting 74, and was on his way back to his home in Orlando.
 
Putting guru Stan Utley was one of the unfortunates in Beaumont, as was Kelly Gibson and Dave Stockton, Jr.
 
The real heartbreak, though, belonged to an Argentinan, Julio Zapata of Buenos Aires. He was sailing along through three rounds at Beaumont with scores of 71, 65 and 68. But he stumbled the last day with a 75 and missed the cut by one stroke.
 
Related links:
  • TGC Airtimes

  • Full Coverage - PGA Tour Q-School

  • Leaderboard - PGA Tour Q-School
  • Getty Images

    DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

    By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

    The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

    ''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

    In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

    ''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

    The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

    ''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

    Getty Images

    Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

    Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

    As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

    Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

    Getty Images

    Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

    The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

    Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

    McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

    McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

    Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

    “When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

    And that was an offseason event.

    “They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

    As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

    So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

    “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”



    Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

    Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

    His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

    It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

    There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

    There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

    While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

    There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.



    Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

    Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

    He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

    Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

    Getty Images

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

    The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

    Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream


    Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

    Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

    Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.


    Notables in the field

    Phil Mickelson

    * This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

    * For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

    * He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

    * This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.


    Jon Rahm

    * Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    * In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

    * Last year he finished T-34 in this event.


    Adam Hadwin

    * Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

    * In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.


    Brian Harman

    * Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

    * Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

    * Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.


    Brandt Snedeker

    * Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

    * This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

    * Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.


    Patrick Reed

    * Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

    * This is his first start of 2018.

    * Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

    (Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)