Simpson Returns From Purgatory

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 21, 2005, 4:00 pm
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
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    Paisley (61) leads Web.com Tour Championship

    By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

    ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.

    The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

    ''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

    The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.


    Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


    ''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

    Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

    ''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

    Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

    The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

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    McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

    ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

    Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

    Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.


    Projected FedExCup standings

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

    McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

    “I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

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    Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

    ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

    After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

    He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.


    Projected FedExCup standings

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

    Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

    “If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”

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    Fowler 'pain free' and tied for Tour Championship lead

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:01 pm

    ATLANTA – The most important member of Team USA at next week’s Ryder Cup may be the team trainer.

    Justin Thomas began the season finale nursing a case of tendonitis in his right wrist and Rickie Fowler skipped the first two playoff events after being slowed by a right oblique injury.

    Neither player seemed impacted by the injuries on Thursday at the Tour Championship, with Thomas tied for fifth at 3 under and Fowler tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at 5 under par.


    Current FedExCup standings

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “I needed the 2 1/2 weeks or so of just sitting around really not doing a whole lot,” said Fowler, who tied for eighth last week at the BMW Championship. “It was definitely the right call. If I would have played through the first or second playoff events, there was really no benefit, especially looking at the ultimate goal being ready for the Ryder Cup and to have a chance to be here at East Lake.”

    Being rested and pain-free is a vast improvement over how he felt at the PGA Championship last month, when he underwent therapy before and after each round and had to wear tape just to play.

    “It's nice to be back swinging pain-free because I wouldn't have wanted to deal with how it felt during PGA week for a continued amount of time,” said Fowler, who finished his day with a bogey-free closing nine to secure a spot in Friday’s final group with Woods.