Monday Morning Golf Report

Aug. 31, 2009

Webb Simpson and Bill Haas came into the PGA Tour's first week of the FedEx Cup Playoffs at the Barclays ranked 85th and 82nd respectively, and thanks to a pair of top-25 finishes, the duo has put themselves in good shape for the final three weeks.

Simpson started his week with a stellar round of 5-under 66 and was one shot off the lead. He followed that with an equally impressive 68 in tough conditions on Friday and held a 2-stroke lead at the halfway point.

He started the third round on Saturday with an even-par front nine but found trouble at the par-3 11th, making a triple-bogey six. Despite the setback, Simpson regrouped and birdied two of the final seven holes to finish with a 1-over 72 and was one shot behind the leaders at 7-under.

Playing in the second-to-last group, the Raleigh, N.C., native made eight-straight pars to start the final round before bogeys at No. 9 and No. 11 dropped him back to 5-under. But just like Saturday, Simpson regrouped and played the final eight holes at 1-under to par to post his second-straight 72 and would finish in eighth alone.

The eighth-place finish was his second top-10 of the year and his first since the end of January. The $232,500 check was his largest payday as a professional and he jumped 44 spots on the FedEx Cup standings to No. 41.

Haas carded rounds of 72-70 on Thursday and Friday and would make the cut at even-par. He then made a total of five birdies in his round of 2-under 69 on Saturday to jump to a tie for 17th heading into Sunday.

The final round could not have gotten off to a better start for Haas as he made four birdies on the front nine to turn at 6-under par and was just two shots off the lead. Haas then bogeyed No. 10 and played the next seven holes at 5-over par to fall back to even for the tournament. But like the true professional, Haas closed out the round in style with a birdie at the final hole to finish at 1-under par and tied for 24th.

Haas moved from 82nd to 61st on the money list and has now eclipsed the million dollar mark in earnings for the second-straight season.

The top-125 players on the FedEx Cup standings started last week in New York and next week at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, only the top-100 players will tee-it-up. The field will be trimmed to the top-70 for the third week at the BMW Championship and only the top-30 in the standings will play the Tour Championship at the end of September.

Ron Whittaker posted his second top-5 finish of the year at the Nationwide Tour's Northeast Pennsylvania Classic last week. He opened with a round of 1-over 71 but fired a pair of bogey-free 66s on Friday and Saturday to vault himself into a tie for ninth heading into Sunday.

In the final round, Whittaker started with nine-straight pars before a bogey at No. 10 dropped him back to 6-under par. But he bounced-back with four birdies in the final eight holes to finish at 10-under par and tied for fifth.

Len Mattiace posted rounds of 67-69 on Thursday and Friday to make his first cut since mid-June. He followed with rounds of 70-69 over the weekend to finish tied for 39th.

Gary Hallberg and Lanny Wadkins were the only two former Deacons to play at the Champions Tour Boeing Classic in Washington last week. Hallberg posted rounds of 71-72-71 to finish tied for 27th while Wadkins carded 75-75-72 to finish tied for 67th.

Laura Diaz finished the LPGA Safeway Classic at 1-under par after rounds of 70-74-71 to finish tied for 49th. It was Diaz's eighth cut made in 17 starts this season.

At the US Amateur last week at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., senior Brendan Gielow put himself in a tough spot after an opening round 81. Despite a 73 at Southern Hills on Tuesday, Gielow missed the match-play cut which came at 8-over par.

Gielow will now have a week and a half before he heads to Merion Country Club on Sept. 12 and 13 when he will represent the United States in the 2009 Walker Cup.

Recent graduate Dustin Groves used a trio of birdies down the stretch to comeback and win the 2009 Valentine Invitational at the Hermitage Country Club in Richmond, Va., last weekend.

After opening with rounds of 73-68, Groves entered the final round in a second-place tie, one-shot off the pace. He found himself even-par through 14 holes before three-straight birdies at 15, 16 and 17 vaulted him into the lead.

A par at No. 18 gave the Keswick, Va., native a final-round 69 and a two-shot victory over former Valentine Invitational Champion and current Virginia State Golf Association points leader Keith Decker. Groves' 69 was just one of two rounds under-70 in Sunday's final round.

Groves has a couple of more amateur events on his schedule and then plans to turn professional sometime later this year. He will play the majority of 2010 on the mini tours while he readies his game for PGA Tour Q-School in the winter.

The Champions Tour will head to Pebble Beach this week for the Walmart First Tee Open while the LPGA Tour is north of the border for the CN Canadian Women's Open. The Nationwide Tour heads south of the border for the Mexico Open this week at the El Bosque Golf Club.

Jerry Haas will be taking the first step towards the 2010 PGA Championship this week as he plays in the Carolinas PGA Professional Championship at The Point Lake & Golf Club in Mooresville, N.C., on Sept. 1-3. The low-10 scores at the end of the week will advance to the 43rd PGA Professionals Championship next June, where the top-20 from that tournament will earn a spot in the 2010 PGA Championship.

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