Webb Simpson had a break-through season in 2011, one in which he won twice on the PGA Tour and nearly captured the FedEx Cup and the Tour money title. But does the 'nearly' part override what he did accomplish? Senior writer Rex Hoggard and editorial director Jay Coffin weigh in on if Simpson should look back on 2011 as a season of success and accomplishment or one of missed opportunity.
By REX HOGGARD
No professional athlete has the stomach for losing. Getting beat, however, is the debatable gray area that makes the inevitable bearable.
Webb Simpson is 0-for-2 the last month in heavyweight title bouts, first his FedEx Cup misfortune at East Lake and then last week’s money title miss at Disney. But Simpson’s near misses are not from a lack of trying or a failure to make the most of his opportunities.
His season will be remembered for his accomplishments.
For those who claim Simpson failed to deliver down the stretch when the points and cash were on line, consider that he finished inside the top 10 in seven of his last nine events, including a victory at the Wyndham Championship and a tie for sixth at the finale.
At East Lake, Simpson’s FedEx Cup chances were derailed by Bill Haas, whose par save from the lake adjacent the 17th hole is the leader in the clubhouse for shot of the year, and Donald buried him with six consecutive birdies on the back nine Sunday at Disney for the cash crown.
For Simpson there will be no soul searching this offseason, as if he has time for such luxuries. There will be no revisionist history because there is no need. He played his best, made the most of his chances and sometimes that’s not good enough.
By JAY COFFIN
It was a “hello, world” season for Webb Simpson with two victories, 12 top-10 finishes and more than $6 million in earnings. But – and there’s always a but – anyone competitive enough to win two PGA Tour events in a season should be miffed about the three others that got away.
This was a season of missed opportunities.
Two of the mishaps didn’t seem like a big deal at the time because they were early and no one knew Simpson ultimately would win twice. Back in March at the Transitions Championship, Simpson bogeyed the 72nd hole to miss a playoff by a shot against Gary Woodland.
A month later in New Orleans, Simpson was assessed an untimely penalty in the final round that would’ve handed him the Zurich Classic, but still, he was beat by Bubba Watson in a playoff. Then, two weeks ago at the McGladrey Classic, Simpson missed a 3-footer for par to lose a playoff against Ben Crane.
Now it’s unreasonable to have expected Simpson to convert on all three miscues and his victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship was a gift delivered from Chez Reavie, but it’s not unrealistic to think he should’ve won at least three times this year, which would have given him the PGA Tour money list title and would make him favorite for Player of the Year.
A great year? Yes. A fantastic year? No. Too many missed chances.