Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Sunday Of Almosts For Simpson, de Jonge

   Sunday was a day of almosts for Charlotte's Webb Simpson and Brendon de Jonge.

   Both almost won their first PGA Tour events.

   Simpson, who moved to Charlotte last August from Raleigh with his wife, Dowd, couldn't par the last hole at the Transitions Championship to force a playoff with Gary Woodland and wound up with a solo second. It wasn't the way Simpson wanted it to end but it was another experience of playing with or near the lead on Sunday and that's bound to help down the road.

    Simpson was brilliant around the greens in the final round, one-putting 13 times in a 16-hole stretch when his ball striking wasn't particularly sharp. But he couldn't save par from the back of the 18th green when he needed to -- something Woodland did from nearly the same spot to win.

   It will sting for a time, knowing there was a spot in the Masters if he won, but Simpson is getting more familiar with the Sunday afternoon heat. He had a chance in Las Vegas last fall, leading with two holes remaining only to hit his tee shot in the water on the 17th hole causing him to miss a playoff by a stroke.

   This time, he made things difficult when he pulled his tee shot into a fairway bunker at the 18th hole and it slipped away from there. But he can take plenty of confidence away from Innisbrook, knowing he has the game to win.

   It was the first week his wife and new son, James, have traveled with him and it's going to be a week he always remembers for more reasons than the golf.

   For de Jonge, it was a discouraging finish. He was tied for the lead on the back nine but made four bogeys in his last seven holes. He had an excellent year in 2010 with three third-place finishes but his final-round scoring average ranked 97th on tour.

    He ranked 16th on Sunday scoring average this year until his 73 at Innisbrook. On television, you could see the disappointment in de Jonge's body language. But he has become a very good player, a guy who plays under the radar but who is growing into a really solid PGA Tour player. He'll have better Sundays than this one.


Anonymous said...

De Jonge needs to slow down in the stretch and Simpson needs to speed the heck up. He's outrageously slow and hard to watch because of it.