A former Wake Forest player claimed his first PGA Tour victory by holding off a late-charging, ex-Florida State standout. Not far behind was a former North Carolina State player.
They helped turn the Wyndham Championship into a de facto Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
OFFICIAL WORLD GOLF RANKING
Luke Donald is in his 13th week atop the world ranking.
1. Luke Donald
2. Lee Westwood
3. Steve Stricker
4. Martin Kaymer
5. Rory McIlroy
6. Phil Mickelson
7. Adam Scott
8. Jason Day
9. Dustin Johnson
10. Nick Watney
Webb Simpson won his first PGA Tour title Sunday, shooting a 3-under 67 for a three-stroke victory, and rose 22 places up to 33rd in the latest edition of the Official World Golf Ranking. Simpson began the year outside the top 200. England's Oliver Fisher, who won the Czech Open, climbed from 507th up to 238th.
There were no changes in the top 15 spots last week as none of the high-ranking players participated in events the week after the PGA Championship. That, of course, will change this week with the beginning of the FedExCup playoffs at The Barclays.
Tiger Woods continues to pay the price for his lengthy absences and mediocre play, however, as he dropped another three places to 36th in the latest rankings. Simpson, British Open champion Darren Clarke and Spanish Ryder Cup player Miguel Angel Jimenez have overtaken Woods, who is destined to fall farther in the coming weeks after failing to qualify for the playoffs.
The top 10 remains No. 1 Luke Donald, No. 2 Lee Westwood, No. 3 Steve Stricker, No. 4 Martin Kaymer, No. 5 Rory McIlroy, No. 6 Phil Mickelson, No. 7 Adam Scott, No. 8 Jason Day, No. 9 Dustin Johnson and No. 10 Nick Watney.
The second 10 includes No. 11 Charl Schwartzel, No. 12 Matt Kuchar, No. 13 Graeme McDowell, No. 14 K.J. Choi, No. 15 Bubba Watson, No. 16 David Toms, No. 17 Ian Poulter, No. 18 Paul Casey, No. 19 Robert Karlsson and No. 20 Kim Kyung-tae.
Simpson, a Raleigh native, finished at 18-under 262 and collected $936,000 in the tournament about a 30-mile drive from the Wake Forest campus where just a few years ago he was a college star – earning the ACC’s player of the year honors for the Demon Deacons in 2008.
“I really couldn’t think of a better place to win than here in Greensboro,” Simpson said.
His final round had steady, bogey-free play and a strong finish marked by consecutive birdies on Nos. 15 and 16.
After taking the lead during Round 3 with a late five-hole stretch of four birdies and an eagle, Simpson opened his final round with eight straight pars before moving to 16 under with a birdie on the par-4 ninth. He stayed there until late in the day. Birdies on the par-5 15th and the par-3 16th gave him a three-shot lead with two holes to go.
“When I made the putt on 15, I asked my caddie for the first time all day, `Where do we stand?’ and he said, `We’re two ahead right now,”’ Simpson said. “I knew I needed to play solid golf on the last three holes, and to birdie 16 was so huge. … I knew I had a three-shot lead on 18, and as soon as I hit the ball in play, I knew it was probably over.”
For Simpson, the Wyndham has always been special. Now, it’s even more so.
He said his first visit to the Greensboro-based tournament came when he was 16. His father brought him to the event’s former home across town at Forest Oaks Country Club to caddie for Neal Lancaster during the Wednesday pro-am.
“That was probably the most fun 18 holes I’ve ever been a part of,” Simpson said.