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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

Tiger Woods fires second-round 76, will miss Genesis Open cut

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Tiger Woods’ trip to Los Angeles is over sooner than he’d hoped. Woods fired a 5-over 76 during the second round of the Genesis Open to miss the presumed cut at Riviera by four strokes (the second round won’t be completed until Saturday morning due to darkness).

Hopes were high Woods would continue to build on a T-23 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as the driving woes that plagued him at Torrey Pines followed him to the Riv, despite changing shafts in his TaylorMade M3.

RELATED: Tiger Woods WITB

Wayward off the tee, Woods made eight bogeys Friday, unable to grind out a decent score as he did with his opening-round 1-over 72. He was unable to rely on his putter the way did in this first round, three-putting back-to-back holes (No. 11 and 12). A stretch of three straight bogeys sunk Woods’ hopes of hanging around for the weekend.

(c/o PGATour.com)

We won’t have to wait long to see the Big Cat back in action, however, as Woods committed to next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida. Woods most recently put a peg in the ground at the course in 2014, where he ultimately withdrew due to back spasms.

The 79-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t teed it in back-to-back weeks since 2015, so while fans may not be encouraged by his play, at least he continues to be free from any issues with his surgically repaired back.

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Tiger Woods shoots an opening-round 72 (1-over) at the 2018 Genesis Open

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After hitting just 17 fairways all week at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open, where he finished T23, Tiger Woods switched driver shafts and added 0.75 degrees of loft in his TaylorMade M3 driver ahead of the 2018 Genesis Open this week. He went from using a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70TX shaft, to a Matrix TP6HDe shaft — he used a TP7HDe shaft back in 2015.

So how did the switch work out for him at Riviera CC on Thursday?

Well, he hit driver 9 times during his round of 72 strokes; four went right — one of which got lost in a tree and he had to re-tee — one went left, and four found the fairway. He hit 8-of-14 fairways in total; no Fred Funk, but an improvement. Woods’ bigger issue on Thursday, actually, was that he hit only 7 greens in regulation, leaving himself a few tricky up-and-downs. Despite hitting only 38 percent of greens, Woods managed to make 5 birdies, and he continues displaying prowess on the greens (1.784 Strokes Gained Putting, and 82 feet worth of putts made).

He also showed some flashes of old Tiger with Arnie-esque follow through.

Of course, that means he missed the fairway way right, and he did go onto bogey the hole, but the shot made for some excitement on golf twitter, at least.

According to @RandallMellGC, Tiger described his round in a post-round interview: “I fought hard. I made a few simple, silly mistakes, bad shots here and there, missed on the wrong side, made a few birdies as well. 1-over’s not bad.”

Yea, that’s about right.

Tiger currently sits at T66, and six shots off the leader. Lots of golf to play, but he’ll likely be contending with the cutline come Friday afternoon. How do you think Tiger will finish this week at the 2018 Genesis Open?

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Tour News

Bill Haas injured in fatal car crash in Los Angeles

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Bill Haas was involved in a fatal car crash in Pacific Palisades, Calif., site of the Genesis Open, Tuesday night.

The 35-year-old was riding in the passenger seat of a Ferrari driven by a member of the family with whom Haas is staying this week. According to LA County fire officials, the Ferrari collided with a BMW driven by a 50-year-old woman. Haas and the driver of the BMW were transported to a local hospital. The 71-year-old male driver of the Ferrari was pronounced dead on the scene.

The Ferrari also reportedly “clipped” a vehicle driven by actor Luke Wilson prior to the rollover. Wilson was not injured, per a police report.

Per PGATour.com, Bill Haas’ manager, Allen Hobbs of Players Group Management, released the following statement Wednesday morning.

“Last night in Pacific Palisades, California, Bill Haas was involved in a serious car accident in which the driver—a member of the family with whom Haas and his family were staying for the Genesis Open—was killed. While Bill escaped serious injuries and has been released from the hospital, he is understandably shaken up and—more importantly—his deepest condolences go out to the host family during this tragic and difficult time.“

“Bill will withdraw from the Genesis Open and plans to head home to Greenville to recover. He appreciates the support of friends, family and the golf world as a whole, and he has asked for privacy as he processes what has happened.“

Geoff Shackelford tweeted this video of the KTLA coverage of the crash.

Bill Haas’ father, Jay, spoke with Todd Lewis on Golf Channel’s morning drive earlier in the day, saying his son was “very fortunate.” Beyond swelling in one of his legs and pain, Haas sustained no serious injuries, according to his father.

See the discussion in the forums here

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