Simpson Birdies 18th for Win at Pebble Beach

By Sports NetworkSeptember 3, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 WalMart First Tee OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Scott Simpson birdied the final hole Sunday to earn his first Champions Tour crown at the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach.
Simpson, who won the 1987 U.S. Open at Olympic Club, closed with a 4-under 68 to end at 12-under-par 204.
Scott Simpson and Bill Murray
Scott Simpson and Bill Murray share the winner's trophy with Wal-Mart employees.
Jay Haas had a chance to force a playoff, but could only two-putt for par at the last to share second at minus-11 after a 70. He was joined there by David Edwards, who carded a 68 of his own in the final round.
Massy Kuramoto ended alone in fourth at 10-under-par 206 thanks to a 7-under 65. Second-round leader Tom Kite and JELD-WEN Tradition winner Eduardo Romero were one stroke further back at minus-9.
This event paired Champions Tour players with junior golfers from The First Tee program, as well as other amateurs. The event used two golf courses -- Pebble Beach Golf Links and Del Monte Golf Course -- for the first two rounds, while Pebble Beach hosted the final round.
Haas flew into the lead early on. He ran off three straight birdies from the second to jump to minus-12. He gave a stroke back on five, but came right back to birdie the sixth, then parred the next four holes.
Simpson sank back-to-back birdies from the fifth to get to 10-under. Playing two groups ahead of Haas, Simpson birdied the 11th to get to 11-under.
Haas three-putted for bogey on 11 to create a four-way tie for the lead with Simpson, Edwards and Dan Pohl. Simpson remained steady as he parred his next six.
The 52-year-old Haas moved one ahead of the pack with a birdie at the par-5 14th. He could not save par from a greenside bunker at the next, however, as he slipped into the lead with Simpson and Edwards.
Edwards was steady throughout. He converted birdies on five and six, then birdied the ninth to climb to 10-under. Edwards birdied the par-4 13th to get to 11-under. He had a good look from 25 feet out at the last, but his birdie putt just lipped out on the low side.
Simpson dropped his approach to nine feet at the par-5 18th. He rolled that putt in for birdie to get to 12-under.
'I've never won on the Champions Tour and to even think about winning at Pebble Beach, you bet I'm nervous,' Simpson said as he waited for the final two groups to finish.
Haas had birdie chances -- from six feet on 16 and 11 feet on 17 -- but missed both. He also had a look at birdie at the last, but his 29-footer came up short and left of the cup, giving Simpson the win.
Simpson and Bill Murray were long-time partners in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the PGA TOUR, but have never won the event. Simpson's best personal finish in that event was a share of 15th.
'Obviously to get this win is such a thrill. It's unbelievable,' said Simpson, who collected $300,000 for the win. 'I had so much fun with Bo-bo (his nickname for amateur partner Robert Carter) and I got to play with Bill (Murray) and to have him walk around with us the last few holes was great. Just to win at Pebble Beach, it's hard to sink in.'
D.A. Weibring, Mike McCullough, Loren Roberts and Des Smyth shared seventh place at 8-under-par 208.
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.