Former Open Champ Simpson Tries Again at Q-School


PGA TourIf you want to know about the U.S. Open, hes the man to talk to. Scott Simpson won it in 1987, you know. He finished second in 1991. He could always play well at The Big One, owning top-10 finishes in 88 and 89 in addition to the two big years of 87 and 91.
But he broke his ankle skiing in 1999, and doctors later inserted a plate and seven screws in 2001 when it didn't heal properly. And this week he will get a first-hand knowledge of the PGA Tours Qualifying Tournament.
Now 49 years old, he attended Q-School the first time in the fall of 1978 ' 25 years ago. The first round of the six-round event starts Wednesday at PGA West in La Quinta, Cal., on the Nicklaus and Stadium courses.
Simpson earned his spot by making it through pre-qualifying at Beaumont, Cal., in the Los Angeles area. He shot 68 in the fourth and final round to squeeze in by one stroke.
He confesses he has thought several times about quitting the game altogether.
I used to think about that when I was playing sometimes, he conceded. All it takes is a few bad weeks and most of us out here think about how lousy it is to be travelling and when you are missing cuts it gets really old sometimes.
A total of 169 golfers strike out on the Q-School trail, and a lot of them have been there before.
Matt Kuchar, who will try to regain his card after winning at Honda in 2002, will also be there. So will Swedens Per-Ulrik Johannson, five-time winner Ken Green and two-time champ Olin Browne.
Guy Boros and Carl Paulson are two of the qualifiers who made it at St. Augustine, Fla., while Jay Don Blake also survived at Beaumont. The real story from Beaumont might have been Billy Harvey of Las Vegas, Nev., though. Harvey was on life support through three rounds when he suddenly shot a sizzling 61 in the finale. That enabled him to make the field at PGA West by two strokes.
Jay Haas son, Bill Haas, made the field in Seaside, Cal., as did D.A. Weibrings son, Matt Weibring, at Kingwood, Texas, outside Houston. Others from Kingwood who advanced to the finals include tour vets Bill Glasson, Dan Forsman and Jim Gallagher, Jr. Brian Watts, who nearly won the British Open in 1998 when Mark OMeara prevailed, also made the final field from Kingwood.
European Tour standout Philip Price from Wales easily made it from the qualifier at McKinney, Texas, finishing in a tie for second. Russ Cochran and Dicky Pride both made it at Panama City, Fla., and Jay Delsing and Jim McGovern advance from Seaside. McGovern had an outstanding qualifying tourney with a tie for second.
On the other hand, several tour veterans will go another season without their tour card when they failed to advance. Among them is 1987 Masters champion Larry Mize, who missed by one shot making the field from Panama City, Fla.
Also missing at Panama City were Mike Donald, who went into a playoff with Hale Irwin for the U.S. Open title in 1990, and tour winner Nolan Henke. Casey Martin and Gary Hallberg both missed at Seaside, Cal., by two shots. Keith Clearwater was another miss at Seaside.
Donnie Hammond, Pat Bates, Gene Sauers, David Gossett and Ted Tryba couldnt make it through the St. Augustine, Fla., qualifier. Blaine McCallister started at St. Augustine with scores of 69 and 71 and appeared in good shape. However, he went through nightmarish back-to-back rounds of identical 75s to miss out in St. Augustine.
A trio of well-known tour veterans, Willie Wood, Mark Wiebe, and David Frost, failed at McKinney. And the mystery continues for Bryce Molder, who was such a great collegian at Georgia Tech but who failed again at Kingwood near Houston.
In Beaumont, Steve Pate and Rick Fehr failed to advance. T.C. Chen ' remember the double chip after he was leading by four stokes in the final round of the 85 U.S. Open? ' didnt make it to PGA West. Mike Hulbert shot 70-70-68 in the first three rounds and one more round of 70 would have cleared the barrier by a stroke. But Hulbert faltered, shooting 74, and was on his way back to his home in Orlando.
Putting guru Stan Utley was one of the unfortunates in Beaumont, as was Kelly Gibson and Dave Stockton, Jr.
The real heartbreak, though, belonged to an Argentinan, Julio Zapata of Buenos Aires. He was sailing along through three rounds at Beaumont with scores of 71, 65 and 68. But he stumbled the last day with a 75 and missed the cut by one stroke.
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