Webb Simpson walked away with the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open in Las Vegas. The TPC Summerlin gave up another bounty of birdies and Simpson took full advantage. While hot players like Charlie Hoffmann, Luke Guthrie, 2oo6 Champion, Troy Matteson and Freddie Jacobson where roaring up the leaderboards with 7-under, 64s, Simpson kept them at bay with his own 5-under, 66. That and the 4-shot lead he began with. And it helped to turn around a lackluster last year:
It was a little frustrating. My main goal every year is to get better. I thought I was getting better; I just wasn’t in contention enough. I never really doubted anything. I just thought it was a matter of time before it happened.
When it was done, he cruised around with six birdies and just one bogey and won by six shots. He called it “his best ball striking tournament yet.”
Everyone knew it was going to be a track meet with the greens receptive and in great shape, warm temperatures in the high 70’s and virtually no wind. Hometown boy and UNLV grad, Charlie Hoffman took full advantage, hitting all 18 greens in regulation:
Yeah. Had a birdie try on every putt today, hit every green, hit it pretty close all day and fortunate enough to get 7 to go.
One of those rounds you look back and it could have gone really low, but all in all 7‑under on the final day is not bad.
Luke Guthrie had his own cruise going trying to catch Simpson:
Honestly, I didn’t even think about it until after I made that birdie on 11, I was just kind of like — I think I was like maybe solo second or something and I’m like, oh, dang. I might be the only guy that can [catch him].
Guthrie earned a solid T5 finish which got him well on his way to what he’ll need to keep his card. But he also gave us some insight about how the players are approaching their newly organized calendar:
Yeah, I think that’s everyone’s goal coming out here for the first four before we kind of shut it down for a month is to get off to a hot start, set yourself up for the season and not have to kill yourself playing every week and then you kind of set your schedule, and yeah, it was a big day for me.
He didn’t have the best of years last year, so what did this finish mean to him getting his game turned around?
It means that kind of my scheduling, what I thought might have caused my bad play, I think that legitimizes it a little bit. I got off to a good start last year and kind of I think played too much and started struggling. It’s not like I was shooting 76s. I was just shooting even pars, and that’s good enough to miss a cut by one about every week.
And so basically what I take from that is if I schedule my schedule correctly and kind of take my time and maybe just play three in a row max, and I think I can have a good steady year.
Ryo Ishikawa had to humble himself to go re-qualify for his Tour card by playing in the Web.com Finals. It paid off handsomely with a solid T2.
I’ve played well these two months, like since Web.com finals, the second one. I played well the last three events in the finals. I had three top 10s and a week off and then starting a new season this 2013 and ’14 was — I had a great start, definitely a great start.
I’m very confident for my long game and getting better for my short game, so my game is good now.
Troy Matteson’s 7-under nailed down a T5 for him and it was pretty exciting. He had the whole course paying attention to his run. He made 8 straight pars until he birdied the 9th, made the turn and then birdied six more in a row:
You know, the back side here is definitely where you can make your birdies and I was just fortunate enough to kind of birdie those holes that you don’t normally birdie. I mean it’s easy to maybe pick one up on 10, one on 13, one on 15, one on 16. But we just happened to hit it close and gave ourselves very good looks and that’s something we didn’t do all week.
Freddie Jacobson’s 7-under was good enough to move him up the board to T9. After a great start, he managed to birdie 3 of the 4 holes Matteson mentioned on the back nine:
Yeah. Just hit the ball really solid right from the beginning, got three birdies in the first four holes. Couldn’t ask for a better start to get back in it.
Yesterday was a slow day for me, shot even and just came out hitting the ball well today. Yesterday was kind of an off day, and it was nice. [Today], hit a bunch of shots really tight, made those three‑, four‑, five‑footers, then the long one at the last which was nice.
Everybody seems to have their eyes on just these last few tournaments before shutting down for the holidays and New Year:
Oct. 24 – CIMB Classic, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Oct. 31 – WGC-HSBC Champions, Shanghai, China (This will have a great field)
Nov. 7 – The McGladrey Classic, Sea Island, Georgia
And the winners of these three will join Webb Simpson in Maui in January for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. It’s one of the nicest rewards on the Tour.