Webb Simpson fired a final round five-under-par 66 to cruise to a six-shot victory over Ryo Ishikawa and Jason Bohn Sunday afternoon. He carded six birdies, to only one bogey on Sunday afternoon in the Las Vegas desert to post a tournament record-tying 24-under 260. Simpson’s victory is his first on TOUR since he claimed the 2012 U.S. Open title at Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Simpson had a fantastic week at TPC Summerlin as he led the field in birdies with 28 en route to tying the tournament record. He opened with 16 birdies against one bogey as he set the pace at the halfway mark at 15-under. He finished the weekend 67-66 with 13 more birdies and a runaway victory. There’s no secret behind his success this week as he led the field in strokes gained-putting and was T2 in GIR. He only made four bogeys on the week and is the second winner in a row to make only four bogeys.
After a quiet 2013, I stated in our pre-season chat that I was expecting a big season for Simpson. I didn’t think it would be in his first action of 2013-14! The best stat I saw on Simpson was that he had three times as many bogey-free rounds as the average last year on TOUR and did NOT win once! This week, he opened with a bogey-free 64 and only made one bogey on Friday and Sunday. Simpson’s game is very steady from tee to green and when his long putter gets rolling he can make birdies with anyone. Most players go quiet after their first major and Simpson was not any different but his last stroke play event, The TOUR Championship, he fired 63 to finish fourth. He didn’t miss a beat, or a putt, this week as he claims the Shriners title.
Gamers, Simpson mentioned in his post-round comments that he might be looking to cut back his schedule. He played 26 events in 2011, 22 in 2012 and 25 last season so we’ll need to keep an eye on if and when he decides to reduce his playing load. I would still feel comfortable investing in him for a 20-event schedule and really like his chances at the HTOC in January.
With this victory, Walker collects $1,080,000 and 500 FedExCup points.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA is now two-for-two in 2013-14 as American Webb Simpson joins last week’s winner American Jimmy Walker in the winner’s circle.
There were 12, first-time winners in the 2013 season and just six players with multiple victories (Woods, Mickelson, Kuchar, Snedeker, Scott and Stenson). In 2013-14, we now have a first-timer and a proven “veteran” through two events.
Only 17 of the 38 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. This season, Webb Simpson makes it one out of two as he made his 54-hole lead stand up. That’s really solid golf on an easy track!
For the first time in three years a Las Vegas resident did NOT win the SHCO. Kevin Na (2011) and Ryan Moore (2012) are now joined by Charlotte’s Webb.
This is the part of the column where I list the winners and their age. Jimmy Walker (34) put the “Prime” guys on the board last week and 28-year-old Simpson chalks it up for the “Young Guns” this week. Jason Bohn, who turned 40 in April, missed a six-footer on No. 18 to claim second alone but he’ll live with T2 and give the “Old Folks” there best finish of the week.
What I learned from the finishers in the top 10
Ryo Ishikawa: The Young Japanese lad three top 10 finishes in the final three events of the Web.com Playoffs and was cruising along last week at the Frys.com before a final round 72 knocked him to T21. Once again, he dusted himself off and put up another big tournament as his final round 65 saw him share second place. His T2 this week and his solo second in Puerto Rico in 2012 are his two best finishes on TOUR. If you would have asked me what young Japanese lad would have had the best finish this week, I would have gone with Matsuyama. Ishikawa ham-and-egged his away around this week by avoiding bogeys. His splits would have suggested a top 50, not a top TWO finish as he sprayed it off the tee and into the greens. These last two months are the golf fantasy investors were expecting when Ishikawa came over a few years back. Let’s not forget he’s just 22 as of last month so there’s plenty of upside.
Jason Bohn: As I wrote in the preview column, if there’s one guy who consistently plays easy courses well, Jason Bohn was your guy this week. After bagging 19 birdies to finish T40 last week, he racked up 26 this week to finish T2. Here’s where this gets tough to read if you were on Bohn this week, like I was in my weekly draft. He made TWO bogeys, TWO, and finished second. Both of them were in the final round. The final bogey was on the final hole. He also made THREE doubles on the week! GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. He was second in strokes gained-putting and T10 in GIR which is standard operating procedure in courses where tons of birdies are required.
Charley Hoffman: The Las Vegas resident was trying to be the third straight resident to claim the SHCO title but he finished fourth, one shot out of T2. Hoffman’s final round 64 vaulted him into the top 10 for the first time since his T7 at the Travelers in late June. Hoffman did hit the weekend in 19 of 23 starts in 2013 so he’s continuing that solid form as the new season kicks off. Don’t forget, he finished 12th in the all-around last season!
Luke Guthrie: After a wavy-gravy 2013 where Guthrie only made 14 of 27 cuts, he’s off to a flier in 2013-14. He played all four rounds last week at the Frys.com at par or better to finish T40 and he backed that performance up this week with four more rounds of par or better. The highlights of his week were his pair of 64s which included a bogey-free edition on Sunday to move him from T21 to T5. His T5 is his fourth top 10 in 32 career starts with his last top 10 coming last April in New Orleans. He made just six of 14 cuts after that event and had only one finish better than T47 during that time. I’m cautiously optimistic moving forward but remember he won twice on the Web.com in 2012 so that’s a positive for me.
Troy Matteson: He birdied holes Nos. 9 through 15 on Sunday to fire 64 and move up, just like Guthrie, from T21 to T5. You can add him to the people who play easy courses quite well as his best finish before today was P2 in Puerto Rico in 2011. So that’s Ishikawa and Matteson in the top five this week who have finished second at Puerto Rico. Hmmmmmmmmmm. Matteson’s best finish last year was T16 at Humana and T17 at John Deere. He’s won twice on TOUR and they were both at the Frys.com, one in Scottsdale and one in CordeValle. He’s still relatively young but he’s been inconsistent so remember that moving forward.
Charles Howell III: Quick! Name a player who ALWAYS gets off to a good start at the beginning of the season? He opened with three straight top 10s last year and now has a T5 in two events in 2013-14. His bogey-free weekend of 67-65 was thanks to his putter. He finished the week third in strokes gained-putting and did exactly what loyal gamers expected him to do this week: cash.
Chesson Hadley: After T4 and a victory in his final two Web.com playoff events, Hadley has now dropped his first top 10 on TOUR with his T5 finish this week. He racked up 25 birdies and he needed every one of them as he struggled on the front nine in all four rounds. I like the guts he showed as he absorbed a double on the front Saturday and Sunday but rallied to fight back to be under par on both days. It was also his first time in the final group on Sunday in the big leagues so this is a great learning experience for the Web.com Tour Championship winner. He won twice on that circuit last year and cashed over $500k. He’s legit, kids. He just needs a milkshake or two #skinny.
Freddie Jacobson: The Junkman returneth! His bogey-free 64 (stop me if you’ve read that twice already!) on Sunday that moved him up 21 spots to T9. Jacobson only made three cuts from eight events last summer and had an up-and-down opening week (76-67) last week at the Frys.com. The Swede, as is his calling card, had the putter rolling this week as he was sixth in strokes gained-putting. I didn’t have him on the radar this week because of his quiet summer and he hadn’t broken par here in his last two starts (MC, MC). He only made two bogeys this week and had two bogey-free rounds so that tells me his game is turning in the right direction. Stay tuned.
Ryan Moore: Last year’s champion made one LESS birdie, three, than he had last year but his 18 birdies weren’t enough. Moore now has THREE top 10s from his last four starts at TPC Summerlin so he’s an automatic choice anytime he tees it up here going forward if he wasn’t already!
Jeff Overton: For the second week in a row Overton opened with a bogey-free round to get his week off to a solid start. This week’s 63 was one better than last week’s 64 and Overton began Sunday in third place, five shots behind Simpson. A bogey on No. 2 and a double on No. 3 could have turned the lights out early, but Overton steadied the ship to hit his first top 10 since last April’s Valero Texas Open (T7). Overton’s T16 last week paired with his T9 this week should give weekly and salary gamers nothing to complain about in this early season.
Catching up on those who looked oh-so-good on Tuesday afternoon…
Zach Johnson: Playing all four rounds under par was solid but not spectacular as nine bogeys littered his card throughout the week. His T40 this week is his only finish since his T10 in 2008. Johnson has ONE round over 70 dating back to The Open Championship. That’s pretty solid!
Jimmy Walker: A quiet, even-par 71 to open this week after his first ever win last week wasn’t surprising. The encouraging part for gamers this week as how Walker loaded up some birdies and got back into this tournament to finish T12. Nobody would fault Walker to mail it in and soak it up this week but he did the exact opposite. He dropped 23 birdies and fired 11-under on the weekend to finish T12. I’m guessing he was a popular Group 2 player at GolfChannel.com’s Fantasy Game last week!
Graham DeLaet: The Canadian ball-striking machine did plenty of that this week in his two rounds but it was his putter that didn’t fire on Thursday. He rallied on Friday but fell one shot short of the cut line. This minor setback does absolutely nothing to sway my thoughts about him for 2013-14. Get back on the horse, son.
Webb Simpson: He was No. 4 in the preview column. I was off by three.
Nick Watney: After Hideki Matsuyama WD with illness on Thursday, Watney slid into the OAD spot. Sorry about that. He rallied on Friday posting 66 after an opening 73 to make the weekend. After another 66 on Saturday, it looked like Watney, with another solid round, would make for a nice top 10 or so. Sadly, his SECOND 73 of the week saw him finish T48.
Hideki Matsuyama: WD. Luckily, I had nine minutes to reset my GolfChannel.com Fantasy lineup. It's better than ZERO minutes but not by much. Sometimes it helps not to have a life...
Scott Piercy: Another Vegas resident with a lovely track record here (T14, T28, T10 and T6 last year) couldn’t find either round under par and MC. Those of you who looked at his four rounds of 72 or worse at the BMW and said “no, thanks” were rewarded. That’s six consecutive rounds of 72 or worse if you’re keeping track.
Chris Kirk: He matched his T36 from 2012 this week but just in a different scoring pattern. Last year it was a quick start, slow finish. This year it was 68-70-70-67. His putter was chilly and that doesn’t help on a course where 21.6-under is the average winning score.
Matt Jones: His double on No. 18 on Friday cost him a chance at the weekend. His double on No. 15 on Thursday didn’t help either. Other than that, he was quite decent.
Brendon de Jonge: Yes, he did finish second alone here last year but his two previous trips saw him MC. He matched the MCs sadly for gamers this week because he had just as many birdies (9) as bogeys to fire 74-70. Just when you think it’s time to trust a guy…
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat WEDNESDAY at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the CIMB Classic and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.