Simpson Returns From Purgatory

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 21, 2005, 4:00 pm
In 1989 and 1990, he was one of the best players on the PGA Tour. A solid ball-striker, a two-time winner in 89 with another in 90, Tim Simpson finished in the top 10 on tour in earnings both years.
But 1990 was 15 years ago. And in 15 years, Simpson has been to Hades and back again. At last, though, he sees a clearing in the forest. Myriad health problems forced him out of golf, nearly forced him to contemplate giving up on life entirely. But now, at nearly 49 years of age, brain surgery has given him a new lease on life.
Tim Simpson
Tim Simpson has four PGA Tour titles to his name.
In 1991, Simpson contracted Lymes disease, bitten by an infected tick. He then developed neurological problems that caused his left hand to shake so badly that putting was virtually impossible.
It felt like I couldnt get the putter to move away, he said. My hands would shake so bad, it was between the last look at the target and the last second before I took it away. What was so frustrating was, was that it wasnt mechanical, that it was nothing that I had any control over.
It was the yips, observers said. It isnt, insisted Simpson. He felt there had to be a medical explanation for what is happening. The putting stroke doesnt leave a person that suddenly, he reasoned. Wife Leigh Anne encouraged him to search until he found answers.
My wife recommended to me that if I ever wanted to play again, that 'Theres a doctor out there who can help you, Simpson said.
There was something burning in my heart that never quit, that just, OK, youve got to do it, Im gonna do it. I knew that somebody, somewhere could help me.
Still, he was almost as confused as were medical professionals who were trying to help him.
There were times when I felt like, you know, I cant go on, he said. There were times I think I went through the stages like people who had developed a terminal illness ' first denial, second anger, and finally acceptance. I feel like I went through all of those.
He searched and suffered for years, the sport of golf by now all about forgotten. But last year, he stumbled onto an answer.
A revolutionary procedure known as deep brain stimulation had been used on numerous Parkinsons patients since 1997. And, doctors said, Tim Simpson was a candidate. He was diagnosed with benign essential tremor, which is much like Parkinsons.
For years, neurologists felt it was a side effect from Lymes disease, said Simpson. Lymes causes a lot of neurological problems.
But theyve come to believe now that its genetic, because both my grandparents had it, and my older sister Bonnie has developed it. It is progressive, it does get worse.
Tim Simpson
Tim Simpson made only 5 cuts in 16 starts on the 2004 Nationwide Tour.
But though it is incurable, it is not fatal. And Simpson knows now that brain surgery, even undergoing nine hours under the knife like he did, helps tremendously.
It was really incredible, he said, shaking his head at the memory. They told me they didnt want me to hit balls for two months. I knew that in intensive care, I had a club and didnt shake. I knew when I was released from the hospital I didnt shake. But I had to see it to believe it.
I pulled out my shag bag of balls (upon his release), and the third ball I hit, from 15 yards, went right in the cup. I said, I like this!
Simpson feels like he is on the right track now. He is practicing diligently. And, he never, ever will forget where hes been.
I would hope that I can be an inspiration to others, he said. If I can convince just one other person to do that, or maybe someone who is fighting cancer, or fighting something else, and theyre ready to throw in the towel, if they can somehow look at me and say, Look at what this guys overcome, went through lymes disease, went through spinal fusion, - I had surgery for an encapsulated staff infection ' and now brain surgery, but I never gave up. If he didnt give up, then I can keep on fighting.
And if by chance Tim Simpson is a winner again, if he should prevail either on the Nationwide, the PGA Tour, or the Champions Tour, he says he will rejoice like no other has ever rejoiced.
I can tell you that for a guy whos considered a big tough guy, said Simpson, Im the worst in the world about crying. I mean, Freddie (Couples) getting upset and crying at Houston last year ' that wont be anything like me.
Theres no way you will be able to do an interview. Im sure Ill just totally break down and bawl my eyes out.
Related links:
  • Tim Simpson Bio
  • Getty Images

    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

    Getty Images

    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

    Getty Images

    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

    Getty Images

    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry