Simpson Spins a Victory Webb
If one was to go into a weekend of a U.S. Open and shoot 4-under par over the two days, more often than not that person would come away as the champion. This past weekend at the Olympic Club in San Francisco was no different. Webb Simpson, the 26-year-old Wake Forest graduate and (now) three-time PGA Tour winner squeezed out a one-stroke victory, finishing with a four day total of 1-over par. Simpson, who won twice in 2011 and amassed 21 top-25 finishes in 26 events, had the game to win a major, but many did not think it would come this soon. As is the case with many U.S. Opens, the man who emerges victorious is usually the one who makes the least mistakes. Simpson began his back-9 on Sunday with a birdie and made pars on the final eight holes to close out his round. It was a mistake-free stretch, made even more impressive as, after the round, he said “I couldn’t feel my legs” during those final holes. The last 15 major championships have all been won by different golfers, and Simpson was just another young gun whose time had come.
After disastrous starts by some of the world’s best golfers – and disastrous finishes by many others – no one was spared by the test that was Olympic Club’s Lake Course. I received a tweet from a friend of mine last night that said “Olympic has no regard for anyone.” This could not be a more correct statement. World no’s 1 and 2 Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald (respectively) both missed the cut. Major champions Bubba Watson, Lucas Glover, Louis Oosthuizen were gone after two days. Pre-tournament favourites Dustin Johnson, Bill Haas, and Kyle Stanley also were sent packing early. Guys who actually made the cut didn’t have it much easier, as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson for example, were a combined 17-over par. For a golf course that has only one fairway bunker, and no water hazards, Olympic Club was able to cause players fits in different ways. Just how the USGA likes it.
The Kids are Alright
I didn’t think the ‘youth’ storyline could get any better than after 14-year-old Andy Zhang qualified for the U.S. Open and became the youngest-known competitor in the championship’s 112-year history. But then, a 17-year-old named Beau Hossler with braces and a baby-face came along, and on Saturday night told the world he wasn’t thinking about low amateur honours – he wanted to win the whole tournament. Hossler would not go on to win, and would eventually lose out on low amateur honours after a double-bogey on his final hole to Jordan Spieth, but Hossler will definitely not forget this experience any time soon.
Not to be outdone by the boys, 14-year-old Brooke Henderson made waves north of the border last week after winning the second CN Canadian Women’s Tour Event of the season, and locked up an exemption into the LPGA’s CN Canadian Women’s Open championship later this summer. At 14, Henderson will become the youngest player ever to play in the tournament.
This week, the PGA Tour heads across the country from California to Connecticut for the Travelers Championship. For those who struggled through the U.S. Open test, it will be a welcome sight to see the TPC River Highlands course, the third-shortest course the PGA Tour visits all season. A popular pick this week to contend would be Ryan Moore, who wasn’t in the field last week and should be well-rested. He’s also a two-time runner-up at the championship, including in 2011.
Meanwhile, both the Champions Tour and the LPGA Tour are coming to Canada for the Montreal Championship and the inaugural Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, respectively. Unfortunately, the Montreal Championship has seen a fair share of star-withdrawals including Fred Couples, Tom Lehman, Nick Price, and Kenny Perry; however, the Manulife tournament – hosted in Waterloo – will feature eight of the top 10 female golfers on Tour this season.