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 Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
LAS VEGAS -- Ryo Ishikawa won't be in the field at this week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, but the budding Japanese star will return to action the following week at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China.
It will be his 10th career WGC start -- and he'll be riding plenty of momentum.
Ishikawa matched his career-best PGA TOUR finish with a tie for second Sunday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He shot a final-round 65 to finish at 18-under 266, six shots behind Webb Simpson.
"I'm very confident with my long game and getting better with my short game, so my game is good now," Ishikawa said. "I'm pretty happy with the result."
Ishikawa, who turned 22 years old last month, has started the 2013-14 season with two consecutive top-25 finishes; he finished T-21 at last week's Frys.com Open. Ishikawa is fourth in the FedExCup standings after the year's first two events.
He had to play the Web.com Tour Finals last month after posting just one top-25 finish in 23 starts in the 2013 TOUR season. He finished in the top-10 in three of four Web.com Tour Finals events to regain his playing status.
"I've played well these two months," said Ishikawa, whose other runner-up finish came at the 2012 Puerto Rico Open. "I had a great start. Definitely a great start."
Not playing this week will allow Ishikawa to rest after playing six of the last seven weeks. The only week he did not tee it up during that stretch was the week of The Presidents Cup.
Ishikawa had played for the International Team in the previous two Presidents Cups but did not make Nick Price's team this year. Fellow Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama, who is one year younger than Ishikawa, made the team and was one of the bright spots in a losing effort.
No doubt Ishikawa would love to join Matsuyama for the next Presidents Cup, which will be held in Korea in 2015 -- the first time the event will be in Asia.
While Matsuyama withdrew from the Shriners due to illness, Ishikawa made another strong statement in the two-year process to work his way back on the team.
Ishikawa is glad to have another Japanese player on the PGA TOUR.
"He is a great player and at the same time is a great guy," Ishikawa said. "We talk a lot for our golf and our game. So it works pretty well."
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
LAS VEGAS -- Winning a PGA TOUR event comes with an invitation to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The trip to Maui in January is a perk enjoyed not just by the player, but his family, friends and inner circle. Paul Tesori won't be at Kapalua for the event, even though his player, Webb Simpson, intends to play.
Tesori will be home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. His wife, Michelle, is scheduled to give birth in the first week in January.
Tesori wasn't able to caddie at this year's Hyundai Tournament of Champions because of offseason shoulder surgery. He still attended the tournament to help Simpson prepare for the 2013 season. Tesori won't be there this time, though.
Simpson has a good record at the Plantation Course, finishing third in 2012 and 11th this year. Simpson used Jonathan Byrd's caddie, Adam Hayes, at this year's Hyundai.
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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By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
LAS VEGAS -- PGA TOUR rookie Chesson Hadley played in the final group of a PGA TOUR event for the first time Sunday. He got off to a rough start, making bogeys on two of the first five holes. Birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 returned Hadley to level par for the round, but he double-bogeyed the easy par-5 ninth hole after his tee shot came to rest under a tree.
He shot a bogey-free, 3-under 33 on the back nine Sunday to finish fifth. His final-round 70 gave him a 16-under 268 total (65-66-67-70). Hadley started the day in second place, four shots behind his fellow Raleigh, N.C., native Webb Simpson.
"It was my first final group and I was very nervous," Hadley said. "I just felt a little uncomfortable enough out there to just throw off my routine a little bit. And I hit some squirrely shots there at the beginning and I was able to make a couple nice par saves that kept the round going because it could have gotten pretty ugly there early."
Hadley, who turned pro in 2010, played his first Web.com Tour season in 2013. He won twice, including the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship, to earn his first TOUR card. He has made the cut in his first two TOUR starts as a member. He finished 72nd in the season-opening Frys.com Open.
He's come a long way in a year.
"About a year ago, ... I was at the point where I just was ready to just put the clubs and what not," Hadley said.