Simpson praises tournament format, location
KAPALUA – Webb Simpson would not change a thing about the Hyundai Tournament of Champions format.
“I like how it is,” Simpson said of the event, which requires a PGA Tour win over the preceding 12 months.
Five players who were eligible for this year’s tournament are not in the 30-man field.
“I wish more guys would come, I really do,” Simpson said. “I understand it’s really far. I mean, I’m in Charlotte (N.C.). I’m on the East Coast. And I know guys, they have obligations to play elsewhere, but I know for me, the first time I won in Greensboro, I thought about this tournament before the Masters.”
Simpson was tied for the lead after Friday’s first round with a 7-under-par 66.
“What’s so bad about Maui?” he said. “Eighty degrees, beautiful hotel, good golf course. But I do like how it is, you show up and there’s only a few guys and you go to the range in your practice rounds and you’re only seeing a few guys. No matter how early the win was, it really carries it over and kind of continue to celebrate the win.”
Simpson did question why the tournament is one of only two on tour that finish on a Monday.
“I don’t even know why – why is it Monday?” Simpson said before being told that the final round will end just before kickoff in college football’s Bowl Championship Series title game. “For football? We live in America. I think it keeps a couple guys over here for next week. You’re over here until Monday and then (the Sony Open) starts essentially a day earlier, but I don’t really care.”
Simpson said the Plantation Course is a good fit for the first tournament after the holidays, and is a contrast to next week’s site, Waialae Country Club.
“It’s a great place to start because the fairways are so wide and the greens are so big,” he said. “So you can come here a little rusty and get away with a lot of shots that you wouldn’t be able to at Waialae.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org