Money on Simpson's mind in Georgia

By Doug FergusonOctober 12, 2011, 8:28 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – After a two-week vacation, Webb Simpson might feel as though nothing has changed. He’s playing golf in Georgia, and all anyone can talk about is money.

Only the stakes are a different this time.

His most recent tournament was the Tour Championship in Atlanta, where Simpson was trying to capture a $10 million bonus at East Lake, and fell two shots short of winning the FedEx Cup. Now he’s at a Fall Series event in this sleepy coastal community, with hopes of winning $68,972.

That’s the amount he needs to earn at the McGladrey Classic to pass Luke Donald on the PGA Tour money list.

Winning the PGA Tour money title - technically known as the Arnold Palmer Trophy - doesn’t come with a massive bonus, although the five-year exemption on tour might come in handy. What appeals to the 26-year-old Simpson is his place in history.

“You’re probably added to a list of maybe 50 guys,” Simpson said.

There have been 37 players who won the PGA Tour money title dating to 1934, and it would be hard to call many of them a fluke. Tiger Woods won it a record nine times, followed by Jack Nicklaus eight times, with Ben Hogan and Tom Watson winning five times each.

Simpson still thinks the emphasis should be placed on the FedEx Cup, which Bill Haas captured last month in winning the Tour Championship. Then again, one component of the FedEx Cup is getting hot at the right time - mainly the month after the final major - while the money title also represents a year’s worth of good play.

“They’re probably equally as hard to win,” Simpson said.

And it might be easier for him to keep track of what he has to do on the Seaside Course at Sea Island. It still requires math, only it’s about money instead of points. And it helps that so few people from high on the money list are playing.

Simpson is the only player with a mathematical chance of catching Donald, although the McGladrey Classic has a surprisingly strong field for its second year of existence. The tournament has nine of the top 30 players from the money list, including Matt Kuchar, David Toms, Brandt Snedeker and Vijay Singh. Bryce Molder is playing after winning his first PGA Tour event last week in the Frys.com Open, where he outlasted Briny Baird on the sixth playoff hole. Rickie Fowler also is coming off his first professional win at the Korea Open.

Molder has some history at Sea Island. He played in the 2001 Walker Cup, held on the Ocean Forest course, and went unbeaten that week even though the Americans lost the cup. Molder won both singles matches against Graeme McDowell, who also is in the field this week.

Still, it’s all about Simpson’s pursuit of Donald - and perhaps an even greater award.

The FedEx Cup playoffs were supposed to help decide who might be voted PGA Tour player of the year. Instead, they decided very little. No one has won more than two tournaments on the PGA Tour this year. The four playoff events were won by four players. One of them was Simpson, who has won twice since the PGA Championship ended and lost in a playoff in New Orleans.

“I still need to do a little something more to get player of the year,” Simpson said. “If I could somehow squeak it out and win the money list, that would just help.”

Donald could still enter the season-ending tournament next week at Disney if Simpson were to pass him on the money list. The title might be more historic for Donald, as no one has ever won the European Tour and PGA Tour money titles in the same year, and the Englishman has a healthy lead in Europe.

Money also is significant to 21-year-old Bud Cauley.

He is on the verge of becoming on the sixth player to go straight from college to the PGA Tour without having to go through Q-school. Cauley, who left Alabama this summer after his junior season, should be safe. He is equivalent to No. 114 on the money list, and with only two tournaments left, it is unlikely he would fall 11 spots.

This is his eighth tournament since he turned pro at the U.S. Open, and the first time Cauley knows the golf course, having played Seaside several times in college and as a junior growing up in north Florida.

“It’s always nice to look back on a good week and take the positives from it,” Cauley said of his third-place finish at the Frys.com Open. “But a quick turnaround, and now I’m just focused on this week and trying to play well again.”

That’s what Simpson is trying to do, for about 70,000 reasons. He likely would need to finish about 15th or better to pass Donald.

Getty Images

Football coach hates golf: Don't need practice swearing

By Jason CrookApril 20, 2018, 10:15 pm

Some football coaches are a little more talkative than others. On one side of the spectrum, there's Bill Belichick. On the other sits Washington State football coach Mike Leach.

Leach always delivers the goods, and when asked recently if he liked golf, he didn't hold back:

As wrong as the 57-year-old is on the topic (golf is awesome), the man makes some hilarious points:

• “It’s boring. I don’t care where that ball goes.”

• "Golfers are always practicing their swing. But you know what I never did? I never practice fishing in my living room.”

• "They'll line up over the ball and they'll say they're going to do something that you can't do with a sniper rifle and a scope, but they're going to do it with a stick and a ball."

• “Golf’s pretty much for people that don’t swear effectively enough or need practice. And so there are people that need golf, and I don’t think I do.”

So in conclusion, it's confirmed: Mike Leach - not a golf guy.

Getty Images

Quiros takes 1-shot lead in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 8:22 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Alvaro Quiros shot a solid 2-under 70 in windy conditions to push into a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on Friday.

Quiros fought the elements, carding seven birdies and five bogeys to move to 7 under overall and take the outright lead at the halfway point of the European Tour event.

The Spaniard was one clear of Andrew Dodt, who moved into contention with a 4-under 68 at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course. Dodt dropped two shots in his first six holes but the Australian recovered from that shaky start to collect four birdies and an eagle.


Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II


Erik van Rooyen of South Africa was another shot back in third on 5 under after his 71.

Bradley Dredge of Wales, who shared the first-round lead with Quiros, slipped off the pace with a 1-over 73. He's tied for fourth with Austin Connelly of Canada (71), 4 under par and three shots behind Quiros.

Getty Images

Bogey-free Moore shares Valero lead

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 8:20 pm

Amid the swirling winds on a difficult track at the Valero Texas Open, Ryan Moore has yet to blink.

Moore was one of only two players among the 156-man field to go bogey-free during the opening round at TPC San Antonio, and he's now the only player still boasting a clean scorecard after a second-round 67 that included five birdies and the rest pars. At 9 under, the veteran shares the lead with Zach Johnson and was three shots clear of any other player at the end of the morning wave.

"Really, around this golf course what matters is the right distance," Moore told reporters. "You can get in some pretty tough spots if you're long and short. So I kind of hit it the right distance all day, gave myself plenty of good birdie opportunities and didn't stress myself out too much with too many up-and-downs."

While many players struggle to find a true offseason, Moore took nearly three months off between starts at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Waste Management Phoenix Open. During that time he shed nearly 20 pounds thanks to changes to his diet and teamed up with a new swing coach, Drew Steckel, in December.

The results have been solid if not spectacular, as Moore tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and finished T-16 last week at the RBC Heritage.

"It's been solid golf, especially the last few weeks. I haven't got a ton out of it," Moore said. "The putter just wasn't there. So this week, just got a little more comfortable with the putter and knocked a few putts in that kind of matter early in my rounds, and it's going in. That's kind of what's been missing lately."

Moore had a breakthrough season in 2016 that included his victory at the John Deere Classic and spot on the Ryder Cup team, but he hasn't sniffed career win No. 6 since a T-3 finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions 16 months ago. Should he keep a clean card this weekend in San Antonio, his chances to end that victory drought appear bright.

"I played some really nice golf yesterday, I just controlled the ball nicely all the way around and was bogey-free yesterday, so thought, 'Let's go try and do that again,'" Moore said. "So to play in tough, windy conditions, to go bogey-free (again), it was some good solid golf."

Getty Images

Former champ Z. Johnson surges at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 7:31 pm

Midway through his opening round at the Valero Texas Open, Zach Johnson appeared far closer to a missed cut than a spot on the leaderboard.

Johnson initially struggled in the winds at TPC San Antonio, playing his first 13 holes in 3 over. But he eagled No. 14 and closed with three more birdies to post a 2-under 70, then went unconscious during a second-round 65 where he made six birdies over his first 10 holes.

It added up to a 9-under total at the halfway point, and instead of packing his bags the two-time major champ now shares the lead with Ryan Moore.

"You just never know. That's the beauty of this game," Johnson told reporters. "I didn't have anything going putting-wise. I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. Shoot, I made some good pars all while being 3 over. You just never know."

Johnson won this event in both 2008 and 2009, but that was when it was held across town at La Cantera Golf Club. Since the switch to TPC San Antonio in 2010, he has only one top-10 finish and two missed cuts, including last year's early exit with consecutive rounds of 74.

But Friday he played like a man unaware of the venue shift, with four straight birdies on Nos. 12-15 and a hole-out eagle from the greenside bunker on the par-4 fifth hole. His closing bogey on No. 9 was his first dropped shot in the last 25 holes.

"The confidence is there, and when you can step on the tee with this kind of wind, you trust your clubs and trust your ball, that's pretty important," Johnson said. "I felt good. It was hard, I'm not going to deny that. That was one of the better 27-hole stretches that I've had in a long time."

Johnson's 65 was his first sub-70 score since an opening-round 69 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a span of 12 stroke-play rounds. The veteran has made every cut in 11 starts this season, but his T-8 finish at the RSM Classic in November remains his only top-10 finish.

"I felt really good coming into the week," Johnson said. "Confidence was there, it just wasn't showing up on the scorecard."