Simpson talked, texted way onto Ryder Cup team

By Jason SobelSeptember 25, 2014, 2:10 pm

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – This week’s Ryder Cup matches haven’t yet begun, but there’s already been some history in the 40th edition of this event.

For the first time ever, a player early-morning texted his way onto a roster.

It was around 4 a.m. MT on Sept. 2, and Webb Simpson couldn’t sleep. He had finished competing in the Deutsche Bank Championship the previous afternoon, and then flew to Denver for the BMW Championship. With about 13 hours remaining before United States captain Tom Watson would make his three wildcard selections, Simpson felt the need to state his case.

So he sent a text message.

“I thought, I've got nothing to lose,” Simpson recounted on Thursday, “So I texted him, something like: ‘I know it's a really tough decision for you, I know Chris [Kirk] just won and I know Bill [Haas] is playing good, and you even have other options than that. But I really, really, really want to be on the team and I really want to represent the United States. I love this format, and I'll do anything to be on the team.’”

Not only did Watson immediately receive the message, he texted right back.

“He texted real quick,” Simpson continued. “I saw the three little dots on the iPhone and I was surprised he was awake. He said, ‘This is a tough decision, Webb.’ That's all he said.”

At that point, lying awake in a Denver hotel bed, Simpson assumed his Ryder Cup fate had been sealed.

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“I was like, I didn't make the team. He's going to call me and I didn't make the team.”

Within a half-hour, Watson did call him, but it wasn’t with bad news.

Instead, the captain wanted to find out why Simpson thought he would be a strong addition to the team.

“At 4:30 in the morning, it's a tough question to be asked,” Simpson admitted. “I just told him [about] my passion for the Ryder Cup from my one experience and how much I cared about it and how much I believed I thought I could bring to the team. Nothing over the other guys, but just, hey, you know, Medinah is still there. I think about it and I want another shot.

“I didn't have a lot of interaction with Captain in terms of texting and phone calls throughout the year. He would text me occasionally that I'm on his radar, but it was kind of the first time I expressed to him how bad I wanted to be on the team.”

By the end of the phone call, Watson congratulated Simpson. He told him he would be named as a captain’s pick later that day.

Needless to say, Simpson never went back to sleep. He called his wife, Dowd, who was back home in North Carolina. He woke up fellow captain’s pick Keegan Bradley with another call. He watched ESPN until he finally left for a practice round at Cherry Hills that morning.

And they all lived happily ever after. The end. Right?

Well … not exactly. Something sounds a little rotten in Denver.

According to multiple sources, Watson had already leaked the information that his third captain’s pick – after Bradley and Hunter Mahan – would be someone other than Simpson. While he wasn’t asked about that after announcing his selections in New York City that evening, the captain did offer a different take on how he came to pick Simpson.

“It really came to me this morning after struggling with a couple different players, who was going to be best for the team,” Watson explained at the time. “I kind of had a revelation.”

He insisted that it was a stack of statistics compiled by PGA of America president Ted Bishop which caught his attention.

“I was cleaning up all these stats and putting them in folders and things like that this morning, and the last one that was out there was the results from 2012 Ryder Cup right there,” Watson said. “I looked down there and I see Webb Simpson, 5‑4; Webb Simpson, 5‑4. And I said, ‘That's got to be the guy.’”

Whether it was more because of Simpson’s text message or what he told Watson over the phone or the statistics he perused that morning, we do know that the final captain’s pick was an 11th hour decision, made in the early hours of the day of that announcement.

The captain hasn’t really spoken with Simpson about that morning so far this week, but at one point Watson was relaying their conversation to a few other team members.

“We had a good laugh about that,” Simpson said. “I don't know what it was. I know he had let Keegan and Hunter know earlier, and I kind of snuck in there. So whatever it was, whatever he saw, it worked.”

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.