All about the Benjamins for Simpson

By Rex HoggardOctober 13, 2011, 8:32 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – At East Lake it was $10 million that haunted Webb Simpson, an amount so inconceivable that his initial thought on what to do with such riches was to buy more diapers. This week at Sea Island Resort it is $69,000 that is shadowing the third-year PGA Tour player.

That’s how much separates Simpson from Luke Donald, the English machine who turned the Tour into his personal ATM machine this year with 13 top-10 showings that propelled him atop the money list with $5.837 million.

The cash crown comes with a five-year Tour exemption and, more importantly to Simpson, a spot in the circuit’s history books.

“I was talking to my wife about it, if you win the money list, you're probably added to a list of maybe 50 guys. So it would be a pretty prestigious list to be a part of,” he said on Wednesday.

On Thursday the would-be king raced out to an opening 63 and the first-round lead at the McGladrey Classic, an impressive feat of competitive focus and compartmentalization considering Simpson’s primary motivations.

Following four rounds at East Lake Simpson was toast. Six tournaments in six weeks – not to mention two victories along the way – and the weight of the FedEx Cup’s riches took a toll on his normally machine-like game. He carded rounds of 69-70-70-73 and finished second on the season-ending points list.

At the time he was exhausted and said he was unsure if he would play another official event in 2011, but two weeks of R&R and the prospect of the money title pushed Simpson off the couch and back into the fray.

“As soon as what happened at the Tour Championship happened, I kind of, in the back of my head, said I’m going to play one or two (Fall Series events),” said Simpson, who adjusted his off-season schedule to make room for the McGladrey.

On paper, a top-15 finish at Sea Island, the minimum paycheck he would need to slip past Donald, is low-hanging fruit for a player that’s managed to post in 15th place or better in 14 of his 24 outings this year.

But that kind of competitive complacency almost always delivers disappointment. Just ask anyone who has faced a two-putt from 25 feet at the last hole for victory. In golf there is no prevent defense.

So Simpson set out on Thursday with money on his mind. He’s not going to attempt to sugarcoat it or trick himself into thinking that it is “just another event.”

“When guys say they block it out, I mean, I don’t,” he said. There’s no way I can go play this golf tournament without thinking about the money title. I’m thinking about it every day. But I’m not over every shot thinking this is the money title. It’s more I’m just trying my best to get focused on winning.”

Not exactly one shot at a time.

Simpson’s level of acceptance is something of a new trend on Tour with various sports psychologist stressing the need to embrace the pressure, not hide from it.

“It’s not a problem to have result thoughts,” said Dr. Morris Pickens, whose Tour stable includes Zach Johnson, Nick Watney and Stewart Cink. “The problem is finding a way to get back into your routine afterward. If you don’t know where to go after having results thoughts then you’re in trouble.”

A victory this week would likely lock up the money title for Simpson. It’s not a foregone conclusion only because various sources have indicated Donald, who suggested at the Tour Championship that he was done with the Tour this season, will play Disney, creating an entirely unexpected cash clash at the finale.

If Donald, who is trying to lock up both the PGA Tour and European Tour money titles, commits to Disney it seems certain Simpson would join him at the Magic Kingdom for a money title shootout as well as an opportunity to collect some much-needed Player of the Year style points.

Ballots for the Player of the Year vote go out to Tour members in late October and will be due in mid-December, which means a potential transatlantic earnings double for Donald could influence the voting.

Simpson, however, seems fixated on making the Player of the Year decision as clouded as the current race for the Republican presidential nomination. And he’s doing so honestly, without gimmicks or misplaced priorities.

He’s playing for the money title, he’s playing for $69,000. Lessons learned from East Lake, no doubt.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

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.

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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.