By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Webb Simpson said the PGA TOUR's new wrap-around schedule will take some getting used to.
So far, he seems to have adjusted to it quite well.
Last month Simpson won in Las Vegas, and through two rounds of The McGladrey Classic he's near the top of the leaderboard after a 2-under 68 Friday.
"I like the venues we've played at," Simpson said. "But certainly playing well in Vegas is going to let me play a little lighter schedule, I think, starting the new year on the West Coast."
For now, Simpson is focused on his week at Sea Island, where he's just a stroke off the lead heading into the weekend.
Despite a windswept day where gusts regularly ranged between 25 and 30 mph, Simpson made three birdies and just one bogey.
"Before I played I would take anything under par," said Simpson, who lost in a playoff here two years ago. "I think the game plan before the round (was to know) club selection so you don't get to a hole and you're shocked and you don't know what to do. That was big for us."
So too has been Simpson's start to the new season.
By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Webb Simpson carried his good form from The President’s Cup to Las Vegas and he hit the jackpot. He returned rounds of 64-63-67-66 to equal a tournament total of 24-under and a “pretty comfortable” six stroke margin of victory.
Such was his command performance that he only made four bogeys during the week. He had every element of his game on song and it was majestic to behold. What was all the more impressive to me was the manner in which he grinded all the way to the finish line. Simpson could very easily have coasted to a bogey five on the final hole and a five shot victory but instead he kept the “pedal to the metal” and knocked home a long curling right-to-left par putt. It was an exclamation point on an incredible week and that very shot highlighted two lessons I would like to share:
Success on breaking putts: Making your share of breaking putts is very much a function of committing to your line-read and then disregarding the hole. I know that may sound counter-intuitive given that you are trying to hole the putt but hear me out. I see too many golfers make a read, aim out to the necessary side of the hole and then as the swing they react to the hole and end up directing the stroke toward the hole instead of down the line required to hole the putt.
A principle that my brother, Trevor, and I discussed and applied the year he won the Masters was the following. “Every putt is a straight putt – it just might not be straight toward the cup.” Apply this when you go out and practice. Make your read and then visualize a straight line along the path required to start the ball along the line you have read. Then as you make your stroke forget the hole and just strive to follow through with the putter-face releasing down your “straight” line instead of toward the hole.
Dealing with a large lead: Not all of us have had the good fortune of playing with a lead, let alone a big lead. It certainly sounds like fun I know but rest assured it is more difficult than it may appear. The mind is so very powerful and it can play crazy tricks and one needs to be super vigilant to not succumb to “untruths.” One of the keys to maintaining a big lead is to continue to play as if the situation was different and you were only in the lead by one or two. (Simpson personified this when he went for the par-5 16th green in two. The shot demanded a long iron second to a green fronted by a hazard.)
Further, if you make a mistake or two and you feel like things are beginning to slip away, be sure to remind yourself that you are playing well (you got yourself to the lead) and that your game is still there.
Finally, just like Simpson showed when he made the long par bomb on the last hole, keep grinding until the very last shot is delivered. Too often people switch off their focus when they have a big lead. Do not make this error. Finish the job and apply some sage advice from the legendary Bob Jones. Instead of worrying about your competition, compete against “Old Man Par” and strive to beat him. The results will then take care of themselves.
Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
The road to his latest victory had taken 16 months. But Webb Simpson stayed patient and entered the winner’s circle at the TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Simpson stated that he knew he was improving, and that was his primary focus. But don’t be fooled with that statement as Simpson also wanted to win badly. Also, Simpson stated that he didn’t want to be that guy who pops up and wins a major (he won the 2012 U.S. Open) and then disappears. However, Simpson believed the victories would happen with improvement so he did not force the issue.
Simpson is following what sport psychology researchers have discovered based upon the achievement goal theory. The most successful golfers are both mastery goal oriented (which is a focus on improvement) as well as competitive goal oriented (which is a focus on winning and being the best). In addition, sports psychologists have discovered that when the focus is primarily on being the best, a competitive goal orientation, then there is a greater likelihood of dropping out of the sport. Not everyone can be the best -- but everyone can improve.
Having both goal orientations gives you balance and allows you stay motivated and confident when the victories are not happening. Simpson’s mental game approach gave him that edge.
Here are a few suggestions to help you stay motivated and confident when times are difficult:
1) Like Simpson, focus on getting better. Have specific measurable improvement goals such as hitting more greens in regulation as well as hitting more fairways. Keep a record to see if you are improving.
2) Like Simpson, also focus on winning or being the best on your team. This goal could also relate to being a starter on your team. A focus on being the best keeps that fire inside to burn bright and creates the energy to practice all those long hours.
Being highly competitive is essential in our highly competitive world. But let’s be honest, we can’t always win and be the best. A focus on improving and mastery of the skill keeps us going through the tough times. Have balance with both goals and you will reach your golfing potential!
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can reach him for mental game coaching and get your autographed copy at www.drgreggsteinberg.com.
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
LAS VEGAS -- They handed out more than $6 million in prize money on Sunday, but 6-year-old Matthew Houston might have been the happiest person leaving the golf course. He has battled cerebral palsy and for the last three years received treatment at the Shriners Hospital in Los Angeles.
Following his round, Las Vegas resident Nick Watney potted young Matthew on a hill behind the 18th green. Without prompting, Watney walked up that hill to say hello to Matthew and give him a souvenir ball and glove. The glow from Matthew’s smile produced enough energy to light every neon sign on the Vegas Strip.
The PGA TOUR donates millions of dollars to charity every year, and Shriners Hospitals for Children is one that is special. And thanks to Watney, Matthew is smiling tonight.
Champion: There is no doubt Webb Simpson played the best golf this week. Every metric worked in his favor. Simpson led the tournament in strokes gained-putting, was T2 hitting greens in regulation and was even 2 for 2 in bunker saves. He made a total of four bogeys and followed those mistakes with three bounce-back birdies. Simpson’s lead was never seriously threatened in the final round because he birdied two of the first three holes. Simpson began the day with a four-shot lead, then extended it with early birdies so he could just concentrate on hitting fairways and greens over the final 15 holes.
Coulda, shoulda: Jason Bohn has a good week with a T2 finish at 18 under, but he had a strange scoring split. He played hole Nos. 13-18 -- the most scoreable portion of the golf course with a pair of par 5s and a drivable par 4 -- in even par. Bohn was 18 under on the rest of the course but never solved that last stretch of holes. By contrast, Simpson was 11 under during that same stretch of holes.
Altitude: The mountains surrounding Las Vegas reach 10,000 feet and TPC Summerlin sits 2,500 feet above sea level. That altitude, combined with dry desert air, made it difficult to pick clubs. As a general rule, 5,000 feet adds about 10 percent distance to clubs, so distances played about 5 percent shorter than usual in Las Vegas. Players had a hard time dialing in their number this week, particularly with wedges.
Birdie runs: TPC Summerlin lends itself to birdie runs, and we saw several sprints in the final round. Charley Hoffman twice put together a trio of birdies in a row, but nobody strung together a run like Troy Matteson. He parred the first eight holes and then ran home birdies from No. 9 through No. 15. That string of seven in a row was stopped by a flagstick at the 16th. Matteson’s approach was a little too precise as it rattled off the flagstick, rebounding 24 feet away from the cup and leading to his first par since No. 8.
Happy Birthday: It was a good week for Ryan Moore. He defended his title with T9 finish that included a chip-in eagle at the 16th. As he came out of the scoring trailer, tournament officials had a birthday cake ready for Moore’s son. Tucker celebrated his first birthday on Saturday and reveled in the sweet pastry, chewing chunks off the top and putting his tiny fists into the icing.
Fred Albers is a correspondent for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
LAS VEGAS -- Webb Simpson shot a final-round 66 to win the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open by six shots. It was Simpson's fourth career victory and first since the 2012 U.S. Open.
He tied the tournament record with a 24-under 260 total (64-63-67-66). The victory is worth 500 FedExCup points.
"It means the world," Simpson said about his win. "This year, I feel like I've gotten better, I just haven't gotten a win."
Jason Bohn and Ryo Ishikawa tied for second. Ishikawa matched his career-best TOUR finish.
Simpson started the day with a four-shot lead over his fellow Raleigh, N.C., native Chesson Hadley. Simpson birdied two of the first three holes to take a six-shot lead.
Jason Bohn pulled within three shots after birdies at Nos. 11 and 12. The lead was four with five holes remaining after Simpson got up-and-down from a bunker at the par-5 13th, holing an 8-foot putt for birdie.
Simpson was making his first appearance at this tournament since 2010, when he tied for fourth. He had held the 54-hole lead four previous times; he’d only converted one lead into victory. He shot the 73 the last two times he’d held the third-round lead, at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship and 2012 Greenbrier Classic.
Simpson has now won in three consecutive calendar years. He hit 62 of 72 greens this week, tied for second-best in the field. He was fifth in putts per green in regulation with 1.645 per green hit.
Both Bohn and Ishikawa bogeyed the 18th hole. Hadley, playing his second TOUR event as a member, finished fifth after a final-round 70. He shot 3-under 33 on the back nine.
Webb Simpson built a big cushion and closed the deal Sunday at TPC Summerlin to win the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. It was his fourth career victory on the PGA TOUR, and his first since winning the U.S. Open in 2012.
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