Simpsons are just wild about Wyndham

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2014, 12:02 am

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Any questions about where the Wyndham Championship ranks on Webb Simpson’s priority list can be answered by his daughter’s birth certificate.

Simpson is a crowd favorite at Sedgefield Country Club, and deservedly so. A native of Raleigh, he went to school at nearby Wake Forest and now calls Charlotte home, which means that nearly the entire state of North Carolina has at least one reason to root for him.

Add in the fact that his first PGA Tour win came in Greensboro in 2011, a three-shot victory that occurred 10 months before his U.S. Open breakthrough at Olympic.

Then there’s the newest addition to the Simpson clan, a daughter born in May – named Wyndham Rose.

Yep, this is more than a typical Tour stop for Simpson, and he played like it Thursday, carding a 6-under 64 to move within a shot of the first-round lead.

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“Just played good, solid golf today. One of my favorite rounds,” he said. “I felt like I was in control of my ball for the first time in a few weeks, since The Greenbrier. That was nice.”

Simpson started hot, with birdies on his first four holes and five of his first seven. He grabbed a share of the lead after curling his tee shot at the par-3 12th to within 4 feet of the hole, and despite a dropped shot at No. 17 he remains near the top of the leaderboard.

It’s a familiar position for Simpson around these parts. Since 2010, he has finished no worse than T-22 at Sedgefield, including his maiden win.

“The course is just similar in the way it shapes, and the hills and undulating greens, to what I grew up playing,” he said. “I really see the tee shots well, where like Akron I don’t see the tee shots that well. I don’t see the lines that well. Guys feel that way about certain courses out here.”

That may be true, but most Tour players don’t name their children after tournament sponsors. Simpson did, in part to honor the event that helped propel him onto a path toward becoming a major champion. His wife, Dowd, said she didn’t need convincing on the name, and that the idea came from family friend Bobby Long, chairman of the Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation in Greensboro.

“We were sitting outside Augusta National, and Bobby came over and we were talking baby names,” she said. “We thought, ‘Oh, if you win the Masters, then we’ll name the child Augusta.’ Then we missed the cut, so Augusta was quickly crossed off the list.

“Then Bobby said, ‘Why not Wyndham?’ And Webb and I both went, ‘I love that name.’”

Simpson gave some of the credit for the naming process to the couple’s first two children.

“We had three names as a possibility,” he said. “We would say to our son, James, and daughter, Willow, ‘Which name do you like?’ They kept saying Wyndham. All right, y’all pick. We named her Wyndham.”

Simpson added that part of the name’s inspiration came from Arnold Palmer’s wife, Winnie. Like Simpson, Palmer played at Wake Forest, and Simpson’s father got to know Palmer’s wife before her death in 1999.

“We love the name Winnie as a nickname,” he said. “Maybe when she gets older she might change it. That’s how it came about.”

Etymology aside, Simpson continues to thrive at Sedgefield. It’s a venue where he continues to perform well, in contrast to the consistency that has marked his career. This season he has a win in Las Vegas to go along with three third-place finishes, but he has also missed the cut in three of the four majors and has only one top-25 finish from his last six starts.

“Buddy of mine texted me about persevering and not pressing, and I have a tendency to press to try to make things happen,” he said. “I’ve had multiple times in my career where I won’t be playing well for a couple months, but I know I’m doing the right stuff and I’ve just got to stay patient.”

After missing out on an automatic qualifying spot for the Ryder Cup team, Simpson has made clear his desire to be one of captain Tom Watson’s three picks on Sept. 2. After Tiger Woods withdrew from consideration Wednesday, Simpson began play in Greensboro with the belief that his prospects for Gleneagles had increased overnight.

“As for me and my chances to be a pick, it’s greater now,” he said. “I think he was going to be a pick if he was able to play. So yeah, it opens up, I feel like, another spot that wasn’t there before.”

Simpson hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation during the opening round, his lone bogey coming when a 3-foot putt hit a spike mark. After he missed the cut last week at Valhalla, his game once again appeared effortless upon returning to a course where he has thrived before.

Perhaps that’s all it took.

“It’s just kind of no matter how you’re playing coming into certain weeks, you feel like you can play well,” he said. “That’s kind of like how I feel here.”

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."