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Simpson reaches Olympic heights

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There is something about the U.S. Open that creates historical parallels and loops. Some of them are flat out weird, like a guy named Lee hitting his ball on Sunday into the exact same tree that another guy named Lee hit his into 17 years ago. And some of them are pleasing in their symmetry. At the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic, Webb Simpson claimed is first major championship and also became a part of one of those historic loops.

Simpson, who shot rounds of 68 on Saturday and Sunday to finish one shot clear of 2010 Open winner Graeme McDowell and Michael Thompson, became the ninth consecutive first-time major winner. Simpson played his college golf at Wake Forest as a recipient of an Arnold Palmer scholarship. How fitting that The King was responsible for mentoring the man who won at the site of one of his most bitter defeats, a loss to Billy Casper in 1966 when Palmer lost a seven-shot lead on the final nine holes of the tournament. Simpson also won 25 years after another Scott Simspon (no relation), who took the U.S. Open at Olympic for his only major title. Scott Simpson was born in 1955, the year that Ben Hogan famously lost to Jack Fleck in a playoff at Olympic that is considered by many to be the greatest upset in golf history.

And on and on.

A two-time winner and contender for player of the year honors in 2011, Simpson had never really contended in a major and had missed the cut in the two events he played in prior to the U.S. Open. But in the closing holes that pitted him against some to the toughest and most seasoned professionals, Simpson performed like an old pro in top form. Of the last 18 players to tee off on Sunday, he was the only one to break par. And when faced with a difficult chip shot out of an old sprinkler head depression on the 18th, Simpson executed the shot brilliantly, leaving himself a 3-footer that he rolled in for the par that was the difference between winning and a playoff.

While calm on the outside, Simpson admitted that he was a jangle of nerves on the inside while trying to track down a major title on one of the toughest tests ever set before a group of professionals.

“On that back nine, I was thinking to myself, ‘How did Tiger ever win 14 of these things?'” Simpson said after the round. “I couldn’t feel my legs for most of those holes.”

He managed his nerves well enough to post four birdies around the turn, post his 281 and make it the clubhouse where he could watch the NASCAR-like crashes of the remaining contenders.

On a course where a good prayer could have been as essential as a good putter, Simpson was right at home. A devout Christian, he has said that if he were not a pro golfer he would likely be a minister. A father of one and expecting his second, Simpson is the quintessential “old soul” in a young man’s body. His game and his life seem grounded in the fundamentals.

Simpson is only in his fourth year on Tour, and he clearly has the talent to take his career to whatever level he aspires to.  But when he talks about what’s important to him, it’s all about his wife Taylor and the family they want to raise and the community that they want to serve. Who knows; Webb Simpson may very well achieve more off the course than on it. But history will note that for one week in June in this Olympic year, Webb Simpson’s game reached Olympic heights.

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Blakester

    Jun 19, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I’ve heard Webb speak twice now, at events here in Raleigh, and he comes off as very genuine and down-to-earth.

    And yes…his wife’s name is Dowd. Not Taylor.

    Way to go Webb! Everyone here in Raleigh hopes this is your 1st of many Major victories to come!

  2. Cody Oikemus

    Jun 19, 2012 at 1:21 am

    And by 2014 event, I mean 2010….

  3. Cody Oikemus

    Jun 19, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Webb is one of the nicest guys out on tour. He hosts a tournament for juniors in NC which I was lucky enough to play in the inaugural 2014 event. There was no entry fee for the tournament and he covered all the food and housing. It just goes to show what a selfless guy he is. I hope he has a successful career and keeps his humble attitude which is such breath of fresh air compared to other athletes in this time.

    PS. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe his wife’s name is Dowd, not Taylor

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Tour News

5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open

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Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).

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Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings

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We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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