While some may be vacationing, getting new equipment fitted, conducting clinics or playing in overseas events for sponsors, 2012 U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson is getting a leg up on 2014. He may be showing the rest of the big names a new way to approach their seasons: Win early and then take time off.
"For us to play for a full purse and full FedEx Cup points, I mean it gets our interest more as well," Simpson said after winning the Shriner's Hospital event in Las Vegas. "Before, the (end of the year) storyline was who's going to move up and try to keep their card. Well, now it really matters a lot more. And so I think, you know, players feel it, feel the difference."
There are almost the same number of FedEx points available for playing in Frys.com and Shriner's as the next two events, the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur and the HSBC Championship in Shanghai. And there's much less wear and tear. In fact, Simpson's schedule may start to look good to the jet-lagged like Ian Poulter, who on Twitter declared himself "half man, half mattress" after what he calculated to be 37 hours of travel.
However, some players like to play internationally for appearance money which they cannot receive on the PGA Tour. For instance, Tiger Woods will play in the Turkish Airways World Golf Finals in November, and he is sure to receive money for playing in that event. Others, like Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell, are members of both the European Tour and the PGA Tour, and they are chasing the Race to Dubai prize money, which is not settled until the end of November.
Meantime, Simpson, with an official 2014 victory, has time to work on his Halloween decorations, perfect his turkey-carving skills and work on his Christmas card list. And there's still the McGladrey Classic in mid-November in his adopted home, Sea Island. At that event in 2011, he finished second there during the money-title race with Luke Donald. Should Simpson win McGladrey, he will become a two-time winner on the PGA Tour for 2014 before 2014 even happens. That would be a new kind of record.
While it's a little too soon to determine whether the approach of playing the fall events and gaining points early will get the attention of other players, give Simpson credit for adjusting to the new system quickly. In Simpson's case, it was his first victory since winning the 2012 U.S. Open. He was in trophy-accumulation withdrawal. He felt like he needed a victory.
"This year, I feel like I've gotten better. I just haven't gotten a win," he said after winning. "I was close in Hilton Head, but I've been working hard, and it's just nice to finish the year off with a W and get back to Hawaii (Hyundai Tournament of Champions)."
He felt that winning the U.S. Open had an effect on his play. It impacted him in ways he didn't anticipate.
"I moved way up in the world rankings (because of the U.S. Open win), and I knew a lot of people, you know, they start looking at you and watching you every week, and I seem like more of a guy who kind of popped up for a little while and then didn't hear from me again," he explained. "I felt like I learned to deal with it towards the end of the year and felt a lot better mentally this year."
However, the early success at Shriner's might cause him to rethink his plans for the rest of the 2014 calendar.
"I might play a little less now, just given that the better you play, the less you have to play," he added.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.
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