Simpson opens McGladrey in 63

By Doug FergusonOctober 13, 2011, 5:19 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Webb Simpson signed up for the McGladrey Classic because it gave him a shot at winning the PGA Tour money title. He played Thursday as though he was intent on doing just that.

Simpson matched his best score of the year in the opening round at Sea Island, making eight birdies for a 7-under 63 that gave him a share of the lead with tour rookie Zack Miller.

'There's no way I can play this golf tournament without thinking about the money title,' Simpson said. 'I'm thinking about it every day. But I'm not over every shot thinking, `This is for the money title.' It's more that I'm just trying my best to get focused on winning the golf tournament.'

At this rate, he stands a reasonable chance at both.

Simpson has won twice in his last five tournaments, leaving him $68,971 behind Luke Donald on the money list with two tournaments remaining. Donald isn't playing this week, and he has until 5 p.m. Friday to decide whether to play Disney next week in the final event of the PGA Tour season.

Also at stake is the PGA Tour player of the year award, with no clear favorite. No player has more than two wins and, while Donald has only one win in the United States, he has been No. 1 in the world since May. For Donald and Simpson, the money title could go a long way in collecting votes.

Simpson needs to finish at least in 15th place alone to surpass Donald, although he looked as if he had bigger plans the way he worked his way around the Seaside course, even as the breeze picked up late in the morning.

Deliberate by nature, Simpson at times switched clubs two or three times, although it paid off on the fourth hole when he went back to a 7-iron and dropped his shot some 4 feet from the cup for a birdie. The only glitch was a poor approach from the middle of the 18th fairway in the middle of his round for a bogey.

Simpson isn't alone in having money on his mind this week.

Miller is trying not to think about it. He hasn't made a cut since the Viking Classic in July and has fallen to No. 146 on the money list. If he doesn't get into the top 150, he'll have to return to the second stage of Q-school.

But he has tried to take whatever positives he could find out of the last few months, learning to base happiness on something besides his scores. It was hard not to be happy with a 63, especially after going birdie-birdie-eagle early in his round, the longest of those a 4-footer for eagle on No. 15 after a perfect 5-iron.

Martin Piller was tied for the lead until a bogey on the last hole put him in a large group at 64. That included Scott McCarron, who is No. 163 on the money list and birdied his last three holes. McCarron, like so many others in the Fall Series events, is trying to get inside the top 125 to secure his full PGA Tour card for next year.

Also at 64 was Billy Horschel, who is No. 139 on the money list.

They were followed by a group at 65 that included two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, Ben Crane, Nick O'Hern and Richard S. Johnson of Sweden. Johnson had to go through Q-school last year, and started the year with a nagging injury to his right shoulder. He continued to play because he couldn't afford to fall further down the priority list, and it has cost him.

Johnson is at No. 186 on the money list, headed back to Q-school unless he can turn around his fortunes quickly.

'Now I've got to get back to my old swing,' he said. 'When you're swinging injured, you get into some bad habits. I've been playing nicely at home, but it's just a matter of bringing it out here.'

That sounds a lot like Tiger Woods, and Johnson also plays out of the Medalist Club in south Florida.

'I haven't shot a 62 yet,' he said, referring to Woods' setting the course record two weeks ago. 'It's been more like 65 and 66.'

Either way, those scores don't count when it comes to playing the tour and needing to make something happen quickly.  

Bud Cauley, the 21-year-old who left Alabama after his junior season to turn pro this summer, opened with a 68. Cauley is poised to become only the sixth player to go from college to getting his tour card without going through Q-school. He is the equivalent of No. 114 on the money list, and a solid start only helped that cause.

Simpson was as deliberate over his schedule as he is over a golf shot. He said he had some 15 options to consider because of his plans to go overseas for the first time, which includes the Presidents Cup in Australia. He has settled on the Singapore Open a week before the Nov. 17-20 matches at Royal Melbourne.

There was some consideration for Asia, although once he adjusted his international travel to make room for the McGladrey Classic, it was an easy decision.

Even so, he had to switch from vacation mode to find the game that brought him wins in Greensboro and Boston, and it didn't take long once he left the practice range.

'I did have a little question in my mind, `Would I be able to turn the brain back on and get in the competitive mode again?'' Simpson said.

He answered with a 63, matching the score he posted in the third and final round at Plainfield in The Barclays.

Divots: Matt Kuchar, who has earned more than $9 million on the PGA Tour in the last two years, has signed with Excel Sports Management and will be represented by Mark Steinberg. Kuchar joins a golf stable that includes Tiger Woods and former U.S. Women's Amateur champion Danielle Kang. ... Tournament host Davis Love III has his son, 17-year-old Dru, caddying for him this week. Love opened with a 69. ... Rickie Fowler, coming off his first professional win last week in South Korea, shot 73.

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Teams announced for NCAA DI women's regionals

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 25, 2018, 10:50 pm

Seventy-two teams and an additional 24 individuals were announced Wednesday as being selected to compete in the NCAA Division I women's regionals, May 7-9.

Each of the four regional sites will consist of 18 teams and an extra six individual players, whose teams were not selected. The low six teams and low three individuals will advance to the NCAA Championship, May 18-23, hosted by Oklahoma State at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

The four regional sites include Don Veller Seminole Golf Course & Club in Tallahassee, Fla., hosted by Florida State; UT Golf Club in Austin, Texas, hosted by the University of Texas; University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis., hosted by the University of Wisconsin; TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, Calif., hosted by Stanford University.

Arkansas, Duke, UCLA and Alabama are the top seeds in their respective regionals. Arizona State, the third seed in the Madison regional, is the women's defending champion. Here's a look at the regional breakdown, along with teams and players:

Austin Regional Madison Regional San Francisco Regional Tallahassee Regional
Arkansas Duke UCLA Alabama
Texas USC Stanford Furman
Michigan State Arizona State South Carolina Arizona
Florida Northwestern Kent State Washington
Auburn Illinois Oklahoma State Wake Forest
Oklahoma Purdue North Carolina Vanderbilt
Houston Iowa State Colorado Florida State
Miami (Fla.) Virginia Louisville Clemson
Baylor Wisconsin N.C. State Georgia
Texas A&M Campbell Mississippi Tennessee
BYU Ohio State Cal UNLV
East Carolina Notre Dame San Diego State Kennesaw State
Texas Tech Old Dominion Pepperdine Denver
Virginia Tech Oregon State Oregon Coastal Carolina
UTSA Idaho Long Beach State Missouri
Georgetown Murray State Grand Canyon Charleston
Houston Baptist North Dakota State Princeton Richmond
Missouri State IUPUI Farleigh Dickinson Albany
       
Brigitte Dunne (SMU) Connie Jaffrey (Kansas State) Alivia Brown (Washington State) Hee Ying Loy (E. Tennessee State)
Xiaolin Tian (Maryland) Pinyada Kuvanun (Toledo) Samantha Hutchinson (Cal-Davis) Claudia De Antonio (LSU)
Greta Bruner (TCU) Pun Chanachai (New Mexico State) Ingrid Gutierrez (New Mexico) Fernanda Lira (Central Arkansas)
Katrina Prendergast (Colorado State) Elsa Moberly (Eastern Kentucky) Abegail Arevalo (San Jose State) Emma Svensson (Central Arkansas)
Ellen Secor (Colorado State) Erin Harper (Indiana) Darian Zachek (New Mexico) Valentina Giraldo (Jacksonville State)
Faith Summers (SMU) Cara Basso (Penn State) Christine Danielsson (Cal-Davis) Kaeli Jones (UCF)
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Leach on grizzlies, walk-up music and hating golf

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 25, 2018, 10:47 pm

He's one of college football's deepest thinkers, and he has no time to waste on a golf course.

Washington State head football coach Mike Leach created headlines last week when he shared his view that golf is "boring" and should be reserved for those who, unlike him, need practice swearing. The author and coach joined host Will Gray on the latest episode of the Golf Channel podcast to expand on those views - and veer into some unexpected territory.

Leach shared how his father and brother both got bitten by the golf bug as he grew up, but he steered clear in part because the sport boasts an overly thick rule book:

"First of all, the other thing I don't like is it's pretentious. There's a lot of rules. Don't do it this way, don't do it that way. You walked between my ball and the hole. This guy has to go first, then you go after he does. I mean, all these rules, I just don't understand."

Leach also shared his perspective about what fuels the vibrant fashion choices seen on many courses:

"You can tell there's a subtle, internal rebellion going on with golf, and where that subtle, internal rebellion manifests itself is they really liven up the clothes. I mean, they're beaten down by all the little subtle rules, so they really liven up the clothes. Maybe have knickers, maybe they'll have a floppy hat or something like that."

Leach on the advice he would sometimes offer when friends explained their rationale for hitting the links: 

"They say, 'Well I don't go there to golf or go to take it seriously. When I go golf, I just like to have some beers.' And I'm thinking, 'You know there's bars for that? There's bars for that, and at those bars they have, often times, attractive women and music going on?'"

Leach is heading into his seventh season at Washington State, and he also described a unique hazard that can sometimes pop up at the on-campus course in Pullman, Wash.:

"In the spring the grizzlies come out, and the grizzly preserve is right across the street from the golf course. So they’ll be out, you’ll see them running around on the hills inside the preserve there. But there is this visual where, all of a sudden you drive up this hill on your golf cart, and you’re at the tee box and you’re getting ready to hit, and on the hill just opposite of you it’s covered with grizzly bears. And as you’re getting ready to hit your ball, it occurs to you that the grizzly bears are going to beat you to your ball."

Other topics in the wide-ranging discussion included Leach's proposal for a 64-team playoff in NCAA Division I football, his chance encounter with Tiger Woods before a game between the Cougars and Woods' Stanford Cardinal, his preferred walk-up music and plans for "full contact golf."

Listen to the entire podcast below:

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Post-Masters blitz 'exhausting' but Reed ready for return

By Ryan LavnerApril 25, 2018, 8:24 pm

AVONDALE, La. – After briefly suffering from First-Time Major Winner Fatigue, Patrick Reed is eager to get back inside the ropes this week at the Zurich Classic.

The media blitz is an eye-opening experience for every new major champ. Reed had been told to expect not to get any sleep for about a week after his win, and sure enough he jetted off to New York City for some sightseeing, photo shoots, baseball games, late-night talk shows, phone calls and basketball games, sitting courtside in the green jacket at Madison Square Garden next to comedian Chris Rock, personality Michael Strahan and rapper 2 Chainz. Then he returned home to Houston, where the members at Carlton Woods hosted a reception in his honor.

With Reed’s head still spinning, his wife, Justine, spent the better part of the past two weeks responding to each of the 880 emails she received from fans and well-wishers.

“It’s been a lot more exhausting than I thought it’d be,” he said Wednesday at TPC Louisiana, where he’ll make his first start since the Masters.

It’s a good problem to have, of course.

Reed was already planning a family vacation to the Bahamas the week after Augusta, so the media tour just took its place. As many directions as he was pulled, as little sleep as he got, Reed said, “We still had a blast with it.”


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There are few places better to ease into his new world than at the Zurich, where he’ll partner with Patrick Cantlay for the second year in a row.

Reed wants to play well, not only for himself but also his teammate. After all, it could be an important week for Cantlay, who is on U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk’s radar after a victory last fall. That didn’t earn him any Ryder Cup points, however – he sits 38th in the standings – so performing well here in fourballs and foursomes could go a long way toward impressing the captain.

“There’s maybe a little extra if we play well,” Cantlay said, “but I’m just trying to play well every week.” 

Reed got back to work on his game last Tuesday. He said that he’s prepared, ready to play and looking forward to building off his breakthrough major.

“A lot of guys have told me to just be careful with your time,” he said. “There will be a lot of things you didn’t have to do or didn’t have in the past that are going to come up.

“But first things first, you’ve got to go out and grind and play some good golf and focus on golf, because the time you stay and not focus on golf will be the time you go backward. That’s nothing any of us want. We all want to improve and get better.”

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Success and failure more than wins and losses

By Rex HoggardApril 25, 2018, 7:04 pm

It was a vulnerable moment for James Hahn that was driven by emotion and unflinching self-examination.

Hahn had just dropped a tough decision to Patton Kizzire, losing on the sixth extra hole at January’s Sony Open, so the feelings were raw and his mind was still digesting the missed opportunity.

“I feel like losing sticks with me longer than winning,” he allowed.

Put another way, Hahn, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, acknowledged that he hates losing more than he likes winning, which is all at once understanding for an elite athlete and curious coming from a professional golfer.

Tiger Woods has played 334 Tour events in his career and won 79 times. That’s a 24-percent winning clip, which would get you sent to the minor leagues in professional baseball but is the benchmark for greatness in golf.

Perhaps Jack Nicklaus is an even more apropos example, considering that the Golden Bear played 164 majors in his career and won 18, more than any other player. Even if you edit that scorecard to only count Nicklaus’ Grand Slam starts during his prime, let’s say through the 1986 season when he won his last major, that’s a .166 batting average.

“When it comes to golf it’s tough to have that mentality, because you lose a lot more than you win. Even Tiger in his hay day was losing a lot more than he was winning,” Wesley Bryan said. “I definitely hate losing, but there’s a caveat: I hate losing to my brother more than I like winning.”

But the statistical reality of golf doesn’t discount Hahn’s take, it simply suggests there’s a more nuanced way of defining how the win/loss column impacts Tour types.



In the case of Nicklaus, it’s not just those 18 majors that assures his spot as one of the greatest; it’s also his 19 runner-up finishes in Grand Slam starts that pads his resume. Although Nicklaus is often reluctant to revisit those near misses, and there are a few of those also-rans for which he’d passionately embrace a cosmic mulligan, there’s something to be said for simply having the opportunity.

“I hate losing, losing stinks, but at least if you put yourself there it’s better than if you didn’t put yourself there,” explained Billy Horschel, a four-time winner on Tour. “We lose a lot, we lose more than any other professional athlete. Do you get accustomed to losing? Yeah maybe, but you hate not having the chance to at least win.”

Horschel isn’t making excuses or giving himself psychological cover, he’s simply being realistic. Even the best seasons, like Justin Thomas’ five-victory outing in 2017 that included a major triumph (PGA Championship) and Tour Player of the Year honors, features what in any other sport would be considered a losing record (he played 25 events).

Even Woods, who for much of his career adhered to a strict “second sucks” mindset, has found some solace in moral victories following multiple injuries and medical setbacks in recent years.

“We’re all so competitive out here and when you’re going head-to-head like that you’re wanting to win so bad,” Harris English said. “Losing sucks, but with golf you lose a whole lot more than you win. You’ve got to be a pretty good loser.”

Success in golf is relative and requires a subtle scale to measure progress. For many, a top-10 finish is all the validation they need to push forward, while for others, like Horschel, progress is measured by winning opportunities.

The joy of victory and pain of defeat is evident each Sunday on Tour, the emotions often etched into a player’s face with equal clarity. But for many, simply making or missing the cut can produce just as much emotion.

“If you miss a cut you don’t have a chance to win, that’s the worst feeling in the world,” Horschel said. “I could lose in a playoff, like to Jason Day [at the 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson, which Horschel won], that would’ve sucked, but I don’t think it would have sucked as much as me missing the cut. I hate not having a chance.”

The fine line between victory and defeat can also be defined on a much more personal level for some. In other sports, you are what your record says you are, but in golf you can be what the opportunity provided. Although it’s a fine line with infinite shades of success and failure, there is a notion in golf that sometimes you lose an event and sometimes you’re beaten.

It was a distinction that Hahn at the Sony Open had little interest in, but with time can allow a player to make an à la carte assessment that’s emotionally detached from what the box score may say.

“It’s all about you giving it your all,” English said. “If you did everything you could, if you hit the shots you wanted to, if you hit the putts you wanted to, under that situation that’s all you can do. If someone outplays you, so be it.”

Hahn’s point is no less valid, even the game’s greatest contend you learn more from defeat than you do victory, and it’s competitive nature to, as he explained, hate losing more than you like winning. But in professional golf defining what’s a win and what’s a loss, is very much a sliding scale.