Simpson, Donald know what needs to be done

By Randall MellOctober 19, 2011, 4:43 pm

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It’s cut-throat simple for the big prize this time.

It’s man-to-man offense with no head-scratching scenarios to complicate and muddle the drama.

Webb Simpson and Luke Donald square off at the season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Classic this week to determine who will win the PGA Tour money title and the Arnold Palmer Trophy that goes with it. Yes, the PGA Tour Player of the Year award may also hang in the balance as a bonus gift to the winner, but this week is ultimately about the money.

At No. 1 on the financial list, Simpson is $363,029 ahead of Donald, who’s No. 2.

By deciding to tee it up together in the Fall Series finale at Disney World, this duo has turned back the clock to a time when players didn’t need calculators and spread sheets to figure out where they stood in the game’s pecking order. They’ve returned to a time when the sport’s best, as Paul Azinger likes to say, knew what they were choking for.

In today’s game, a player is never really sure how a putt at tournament’s end will impact his world ranking with divisors and points convoluting calculations.

The FedEx Cup playoff system is so confusing Bill Haas didn’t immediately know he won the $10 million playoff jackpot after capturing the Tour Championship.

Simpson and Donald will have a good idea what they’re choking for this week.

“I know what I need to do,” Donald said Wednesday morning. “It’s not going to be easy, but it would be great to go out there and try to win this event. Hopefully, that will be good enough to win the money title.”

Donald must win or finish no lower than a two-way tie for second to have a chance to win the money title.

If Donald wins, he forces Simpson to finish solo second to take the money title. If Donald finishes solo second, Simpson must finish solo eighth or better to stay atop the money list. If Donald ties for second with one other player, Simpson can still claim the title with money earned in a two-way tie for 22nd or four-way tie for 21st.

“You don’t want to think about it too much while you’re playing,” Simpson said. “But at the same time, it’s nice to know, ‘Hey, if he does this, or I do this, it’s done.’ There are not as many variables to be accounted for.”

The last time Simpson and Donald saw each other, they were sitting with their families in the clubhouse at the end of the Tour Championship trying to figure out the complicated scenarios that would win one the FedEx Cup.

“It was a little weird,” Simpson said. “We were both trying to figure out if we were going to beat each other.”

Simpson ended up claiming second in the FedEx Cup playoffs, Donald third.

Adding to the intrigue this week, Donald and Simpson have been paired together for the first two rounds. They go off at 8:20 a.m. Thursday on the Palm Course, 12:20 p.m. Friday on the Magnolia.

“It will obviously be somewhat new to me, because I’ve never been in this situation before,” Simpson said. “But I think my No. 1 goal/challenge will be to not get too involved in what he’s doing.”

With world rankings rising in importance, with the FedEx Cup playoffs becoming a focal point, with Tiger Woods making money races irrelevant in runaways, the money title has lost some luster in recent years. Simpson and Donald are making it relevant again. The money title looms as a potential decisive factor in voting for PGA Tour Player of the Year. The money title comes with a nice bonus in a five-year exemption.

“I know I’m up against Luke, Keegan [Bradley] and Nick [Watney], who’ve all had great years,” Simpson said. “But I think playing well this week would only help.”

For Donald, whose three worldwide victories this year include only one PGA Tour title, winning the money title might be what he needs to tip the voting balance in his favor. He’s won nearly as much money playing seven fewer events than Simpson.

“Obviously, I feel like if I played as many events as Webb I probably wouldn’t be in this situation,” Donald said. “But, I choose to play both tours.”

Donald is seeking to become the first player to win the money titles on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same season. Though Tiger Woods won the most money on both those tours six times, he wasn’t a member of the European Tour and thus wasn’t eligible for its Order of Merit.

The player ballots for voting for PGA Tour Player of the Year are due to be mailed out on Oct. 25. The Player Advisory Council nominates candidates that will appear on the ballot. Simpson, Donald and Keegan Bradley are likely the frontrunners with two-time winners Nick Watney, Steve Stricker, Bubba Watson and Mark Wilson in the mix.

The ballot comes with no definition as to what “Player of the Year” means.

Though Donald has just the one victory, he’s proven himself with the two other international titles, with his No. 1 ranking, with remarkable consistency on both tours.

“It’s a pretty plain palate, just a tick in the box,” Donald said of the ballot. “I think there probably needs to be a little bit more guidelines as to what you’re really voting on. Are my accomplishments outside of the PGA Tour being considered? Or was it just my play on the PGA Tour?

“(It) needs to be clarified to the players. Yeah, it’s a tricky one, Player of the Year. It’s obviously subjective on what the players think. When voting, the players will consider a few things outside of the money, in terms of not just wins, but the Vardon Trophy and the stroke average.”

Donald leads the PGA Tour in scoring average (68.86) with Simpson second (69.23).

“I guess I’m trying to toot my own horn a little bit,” Donald said. “But the domination in the world rankings and how many points I’ve earned this year . . . I’ve won three times around the world, only once in the U.S. Hopefully, these are things that will be considered.”

Simpson and Donald are similar type players who have both been consistent factors.

Simpson has the two PGA Tour victories, plus two losses in playoffs, among his 11 top-10 finishes in 25 starts. Donald has finished first, second or third five times among his 13 top-10 results in 18 PGA Tour starts.

“We’ve had similar years,” Simpson said. “His finishes, when you look at his stats and mine, they seem to be similar. In terms of our game, I hit it just a little farther than he does, but I don’t think there are too many differences in the way we play.”

The similarities are giving the PGA Tour its tightest money race in years. There’s a possibility a player could overtake the money leader in the season’s final event for the first time since Tom Lehman won the Tour Championship to overtake Phil Mickelson in 1996. And it’s cut-throat simple with no head-spinning calculations required.

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More sun, dry conditions expected early at Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 9:14 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – An atypically dry Scottish summer is expected to continue this week at The Open.

There’s a possibility of a few showers Thursday and Friday, but otherwise conditions are expected to remain dry with temperatures around 70 degrees and winds in the 15-20 mph range.

The forecast for the opening round at Carnoustie is sunshine with clouds developing later in the day. The high is expected to be around 70 degrees, with winds increasing throughout the day, maxing out at 18 mph.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

There’s a chance of rain overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, but it’s not expected to slow down the fiery conditions.

It’s been one of the driest summers in recent memory, leading to fairways that are baked out and fescue rough that is lighter and thinner than in previous years.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.