Simpson rallies, wins in playoff
He had to make three par saves in the middle of the back nine just to stay in the game. He had to make a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 6-under 65, which got him into a playoff only when Chez Reavie finished with a bogey on the easiest hole at the TPC Boston.
Simpson made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th in the playoff after Reavie chipped to tap-in birdie range. Then, Simpson completed his comeback with an 8-foot birdie on the second extra hole at No. 17 to win the FedEx Cup’s second playoff event and move to
No. 1 in the standings, giving him a clear shot at the $10 million prize.
Pretty simple, huh?
“I told somebody early this week that I feel like next time I was in contention, it’ll be a lot easier than Greensboro,” Simpson said. “And it wasn’t that way at all. It was just as hard. The shots and the putts were just as hard. I think it helped calm me down a little, but it was like I had never won a golf tournament before.”
It was hard on Reavie, too, for a variety of reasons.
He started the season on a medical exemption because of knee surgery a year ago and lost full status by June. Not only did Reavie claw his way into the playoffs, he had a one-shot lead playing the par-5 18th.
His plan all along was to lay up short of the ravine with a one-shot lead. He didn’t count on his sand wedge turning with the wind and going over the green, leading to a bogey when he missed a 10-foot putt.
“Unfortunately, my wedge didn’t quite work out,” Reavie said. “But all in all on the day, I played fantastic.”
He immediately found some consolation in his 66 for a runner-up finish. Even though he won’t have full status on tour until next year, Reavie moved to No. 9 in the standings and is assured of getting to the FedEx Cup finale at the Tour Championship, putting him in Masters, U.S. Open and British Open.
A day filled with big crowds and big moments—appropriate to golf’s version of the postseason—the pressure was felt by more than just the leaders. The top 70 advance to the third playoff event in two weeks outside Chicago. Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy and Chris Stroud made it by one shot with clutch play on the 18th hole—birdies for Els and Ogilvy, an eagle for Stroud.
Simpson, who had to play well late last year just to keep his PGA Tour card, started the season at No. 213 in the world. His second win in three weeks moves him up to No. 14, and the $1.44 million check assures him a spot in the Presidents Cup.
Best of all, he is atop the FedEx Cup.
“I couldn’t expect anything more,” Simpson said.
Madison’s Jerry Kelly (72) finished at 9 under on Sunday and moved up to 40th in the standings; Edgerton native Steve Stricker (70, 3 under) is eighth; and Mark Wilson of Menomonee Falls (74, 1 under) is 17th.
The PGA Tour now takes a week off before resuming these playoffs at the BMW Championship.
Simpson, more than most, can use a breather.
Last updated: 6:35 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012