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.