Sizing up the TV coverage from the McGladrey Classic ... and away we go.
The transformation of Webb Simpson from middling tour player to rising star has been incredible to watch. One year after Simpson was fighting to retain his tour card, he was at the McGladrey Classic, battling Luke Donald for the PGA Tour Money List title.
While Simpson lost in a playoff at the McGladrey, he overcame a number of demons this season, including his affinity for blowing late round leads and coming unglued during critical moments in the final round.
As Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee noted, Webb's biggest problem was a quick transition with his swing -- especially when he was in contention.
"He's driving it longer than he ever has, and that makes a big difference; he's certainly one of the most accurate guys on tour this season," Chamblee said. "But the main issue he really worked on was his transition. He watched video of his mistakes and tried to correct them. More guys need to take time to really zero in on their biggest issues. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the swing. Webb's swing was sound, but you could tell he was speeding things up when he sensed he had a chance to win."
Simpson may have slowed his game down since last year -- he's one of the slowest players on tour, after all -- but the improvements in his transitional game have allowed him to turn the corner.
One year after talking about him heading back to Q-School, the Golf Channel crew was discussing his chances of winning more money than any player on the PGA Tour. It's funny how one improvement can change a golfer's life forever.
Why rookies struggle when they're in contention
Billy Horschel had an opportunity to become the seventh rookie on the PGA Tour to win an event this season, but a costly triple bogey, with a sand wedge in his hand, on the par-4 5th hole cost him a golden opportunity to stay in contention.
Even with the incredible number of rookies making waves this season, Bradel Chamblee said the tour's youngest members still have a lot to learn when they get in the mix for their first victory.
"Sure, we've seen a lot of them on the leader board this year, and they all act like they've been there before when they get in contention," Chamblee said, "but the fact is, more times than not, when someone has a chance to win their first golf tournament, they struggle. Webb Simpson talked about overcoming getting quick early on. He saw tapes of himself and made sure the next time out that he was taking everything slower. Billy probably should take Webb's advice and do the same thing."
The dawn of a new era in golf?
We've been talking about it for the last 10 months, but the game has finally turned the corner from the Tiger Woods era to a new era in golf that looks like a relative free-for-all.
"This year has been an interesting one in the world of golf," Chamblee said. "We've turned a page now. The top players for the last 15 years have watched their games slip, we've had 14 first-time winners, including six rookies, and then guys like Webb Simpson. For the first time in 20 years we could have a guy be PGA Tour Player of the Year and not have won a major championship at some point in his career. It's a new era of golf with new faces. ... These new guys are going to be the future of the game. Sit back and enjoy it."
Maybe time Finchem was right when he said their was parity in the sport. We love when golfers like Tiger Woods dominate the sport, but for the moment, it appears we'll have to make do with playoffs and down-to-the-wire finishes between some of the newest faces on tour.
The drama should make the sport a lot of fun to watch. But without a major name to follow, television networks will certainly be hoping for a return of Tiger Woods to the top in 2012.
- Webb Simpson
- Brandel Chamblee
- PGA Tour