Simpson Returns From Purgatory

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In 1989 and 1990, he was one of the best players on the PGA Tour. A solid ball-striker, a two-time winner in 89 with another in 90, Tim Simpson finished in the top 10 on tour in earnings both years.
 
But 1990 was 15 years ago. And in 15 years, Simpson has been to Hades and back again. At last, though, he sees a clearing in the forest. Myriad health problems forced him out of golf, nearly forced him to contemplate giving up on life entirely. But now, at nearly 49 years of age, brain surgery has given him a new lease on life.
 
Tim Simpson
Tim Simpson has four PGA Tour titles to his name.
In 1991, Simpson contracted Lymes disease, bitten by an infected tick. He then developed neurological problems that caused his left hand to shake so badly that putting was virtually impossible.
 
It felt like I couldnt get the putter to move away, he said. My hands would shake so bad, it was between the last look at the target and the last second before I took it away. What was so frustrating was, was that it wasnt mechanical, that it was nothing that I had any control over.
 
It was the yips, observers said. It isnt, insisted Simpson. He felt there had to be a medical explanation for what is happening. The putting stroke doesnt leave a person that suddenly, he reasoned. Wife Leigh Anne encouraged him to search until he found answers.
 
My wife recommended to me that if I ever wanted to play again, that 'Theres a doctor out there who can help you, Simpson said.
 
There was something burning in my heart that never quit, that just, OK, youve got to do it, Im gonna do it. I knew that somebody, somewhere could help me.
 
Still, he was almost as confused as were medical professionals who were trying to help him.
 
There were times when I felt like, you know, I cant go on, he said. There were times I think I went through the stages like people who had developed a terminal illness ' first denial, second anger, and finally acceptance. I feel like I went through all of those.
 
He searched and suffered for years, the sport of golf by now all about forgotten. But last year, he stumbled onto an answer.
 
A revolutionary procedure known as deep brain stimulation had been used on numerous Parkinsons patients since 1997. And, doctors said, Tim Simpson was a candidate. He was diagnosed with benign essential tremor, which is much like Parkinsons.
 
For years, neurologists felt it was a side effect from Lymes disease, said Simpson. Lymes causes a lot of neurological problems.
 
But theyve come to believe now that its genetic, because both my grandparents had it, and my older sister Bonnie has developed it. It is progressive, it does get worse.
 
Tim Simpson
Tim Simpson made only 5 cuts in 16 starts on the 2004 Nationwide Tour.
But though it is incurable, it is not fatal. And Simpson knows now that brain surgery, even undergoing nine hours under the knife like he did, helps tremendously.
 
It was really incredible, he said, shaking his head at the memory. They told me they didnt want me to hit balls for two months. I knew that in intensive care, I had a club and didnt shake. I knew when I was released from the hospital I didnt shake. But I had to see it to believe it.
 
I pulled out my shag bag of balls (upon his release), and the third ball I hit, from 15 yards, went right in the cup. I said, I like this!
 
Simpson feels like he is on the right track now. He is practicing diligently. And, he never, ever will forget where hes been.
 
I would hope that I can be an inspiration to others, he said. If I can convince just one other person to do that, or maybe someone who is fighting cancer, or fighting something else, and theyre ready to throw in the towel, if they can somehow look at me and say, Look at what this guys overcome, went through lymes disease, went through spinal fusion, - I had surgery for an encapsulated staff infection ' and now brain surgery, but I never gave up. If he didnt give up, then I can keep on fighting.
 
And if by chance Tim Simpson is a winner again, if he should prevail either on the Nationwide, the PGA Tour, or the Champions Tour, he says he will rejoice like no other has ever rejoiced.
 
I can tell you that for a guy whos considered a big tough guy, said Simpson, Im the worst in the world about crying. I mean, Freddie (Couples) getting upset and crying at Houston last year ' that wont be anything like me.
 
Theres no way you will be able to do an interview. Im sure Ill just totally break down and bawl my eyes out.
 
Related links:
  • Tim Simpson Bio