Playing with a heavy heart, Simpson shares lead at Kapalua

By Jason SobelJanuary 6, 2014, 3:44 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Webb Simpson and Paul Tesori have told the story so many times that they've got it down to a buddy act, each one filling in the blanks for the other.

It was November 2010 when Simpson, a promising young talent just removed from a strong sophomore campaign, called the longtime caddie to gauge his interest in coming to work for him. Within minutes, though, the roles were reversed. Tesori started grilling Simpson about topics such as motivation and work ethic. The conversation turned into the pro selling himself to the man he wanted to employ.

Three years and four wins later, they’ve forged a bond that goes beyond the usual player-caddie alliance.

“Although it is a business relationship, I don't view him as an employee,” Simpson explained. “He doesn't view me as a boss. I tell him all the time, 'I'm not your boss. We're friends first.'”

Through three rounds, Simpson is tied for the lead at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, in position for a fifth career title. His caddie – his friend – isn’t here. Tesori stayed in Jacksonville, Fla., this week to be with wife Michelle for the birth of their son.

Hyundai Tournament of Champions: Articles, videos and photos

It had all the makings of some playful banter. If Simpson played well, he could joke with Tesori about not needing his expertise. If he didn’t, Tesori could tease him about being more valuable than he realized. Either way, the two friends would share in the celebration of the new baby.

There is no celebrating right now, though.

Isaiah Tesori was born on Saturday. He developed a seizure within 15-20 seconds afterward and is currently in the NICU at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

“I'm getting details from different people, but I think he had an infection or a virus in his brain,” Simpson reported. “They were continuing to run tests last night and this morning.”

It’s a helpless feeling for the Tesori family, of course, praying and hoping for the best for little Isaiah.

On a much smaller scale, it’s a similarly helpless feeling for Simpson, who maintained that if he wasn’t five time zones away, he’d strongly consider withdrawing from the tournament in order to be with them.

“He wanted me to go out and play as I normally would and play hard,” he said of a text message from Tesori. “He's dealing with all that he's dealing with, and you know, when you have a close friend going through something like that, you want to be at least near him, give him a hug.”

Caddying for Simpson this week is Ted Scott, who is not only Bubba Watson’s regular caddie but a good friend of Tesori.

Prior to Sunday’s round, Scott inked the name “ISAIAH” on the bill of his cap and the initials “IT” on either side. Afterward, behind dark sunglasses, he couldn’t contain his tears.

“I want him to know I’m thinking about him,” he said. “He’s a good buddy; he’s a really good guy. He’s one of my closest friends, and my heart hurts for him and Michelle.”

Scott admitted he couldn’t stop thinking about them throughout the day.

“Oh, man. It was hard. It’s just hard not to think about him and what really matters. He’s a dear friend, and you don’t want him to have a kid who isn’t healthy or has problems. It’s just really hard to gather my thoughts together.”

Simpson paralleled those emotions.

“Paul sent me a text this morning, just told me he loved me and wanted me to go out and fight as hard as I would any other day, and that's what Teddy and I did,” he said. “You know, I felt like we were out there playing for Isaiah.

“Paul needs something to watch there in the hospital. It's been a long few days, so hopefully we gave him something good to see on TV.”

They certainly did.

Just as Simpson and Scott were finishing up their round, Tesori took to Twitter to describe what he just saw:

Sure, it’s a helpless feeling being so far away, but Scott soon learned that he was helping – in the only way he could.

“You always like to have some reason to fight,” he said. “When it comes to your friends, you’d do anything for him. If that’s something that can cheer him up in this moment, then it’s worth it.”

As if Simpson and Scott need any further motivation for Monday’s final round, they’ll do it for Paul and Michelle and Isaiah. They’ll do it to make them proud, they’ll do it because it’s the only way they can help, and they’ll do it to reap future rewards.

They both know, this week’s winner will clinch a spot in next year’s festivities here at Kapalua. As Scott said of his friend Tesori, “He deserves to go to Hawaii.”

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Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.

Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.

Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

"I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

"It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

"It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

They were at 7-under 135.

Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.