HOWARD WARD: Of Singh, Golf Channel And Simson
For various reasons, I didn't watch a great deal of the PGA Tour's 2007 debut in Hawaii last week. But for the most part, I enjoyed what I saw.
I thought The Golf Channel did a pretty good job as it kicked off its first season as the Tour's designated viewing point. I enjoyed the wry wit of Nick Faldo and I was pleased with the amount of golf that was shown.
I've always hated it when I was tuned in for an event and maybe saw four shots hit in the first half hour, with three of them being putts.
As for critiquing myself, it didn't take long for me to have to eat crow. In a column that appeared last Sunday, I went on record as saying Vijay Singh was fading.
So what does the Fiji superstar do? He goes out that week and wins the Mercedes-Benz Championship in dominating fashion.
This was Singh's 30th career win on the PGA Tour and a very satisfying one as he suffered through a disappointing (for him) year in 2006.
Now watch Phil Mickelson come out smoking.
I was delighted to read that Paul Simson has been named the Carolinas Senior player of the Year by the Carolinas Golf Association. Simson, a 55-year-old insurance executive from Raleigh, isn't going to out-drive a lot of players, but when it comes to getting the ball in the hole, he's as good an anyone.
Simson is no stranger to the dais when it comes to accepting Player of the Year Awards. He won the honor in 1998 and 2005.
One of Simson's greatest disappointments in golf came in 1997 when he lost his bid for a third straight North and South Championship at Pinehurst by losing a playoff on the 37th hole of the title match. He felt that loss probably cost him a berth on the Walker Cup Team, which was one of his most cherished goals.
The match play format of the North and South suited Simson well. When he won in 1995 and 1996, he was almost twice the age of most of the other competitors.
But the young players had all heard of the little man with the uncanny ability to "get up and down form a garbage can." That scrambling ability served Simson well on the demanding Pinehurst No. 2 Course with its diabolical greens and he cherished the fact that it messed with the minds of his opponents.
"In match play, it can be frustrating to the other players," Simson said shortly after the 1997 North and South. "There are times when they seem to be in position to win a hole and they're never winning anything because I can get up and down for par. Lots of times that kind of thing can get you out of your mode.
"But that's all part of the game. If you start worrying about what the other fellow's doing, you're in trouble. I just play my game. There's nothing I can do about the other fellow.
"Golf isn't a contact sport. In football, you can hit them a little harder and they may not advance the ball quite as far. You can't tackle anybody in golf."
Maybe not, but there were a lot of guys over the years who would've loved to have laid a lick on the master of the scramble after another frustrating loss.
Simson has toyed with the idea of turning professional but never seriously considered it.
As he said in a 1997 interview: "As an amateur you see golf as it is; a beautiful game. You get to meet so many great people -- all the people who take the time and the effort to put on tournaments. We get to play a lot of nice golf courses and we get to see the great ones come along, like tiger Woods.
"Typically, why you don't see a lot of amateurs become great players until they're 35 or so is they're trying to make enough money to be able to play. Golf is not inexpensive and a lot of good players can't afford to do it younger unless they already have a bankroll."
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