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The adversity he's endured has made him a better person and a better golfer, says Tim Simpson. (Martin/Getty Images)

As he does so often, Simpson powers through adversity

By Lauren Deason, PGATOUR.COM Editorial Coordinator

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- For nine solid hours doctors, while he was awake the entire time, doctors performed surgery on Tim Simpson's brain.

Simpson chose to undergo the extremely risky procedure -- known as "deep brain stimulation" -- in the hopes that it would stop a hereditary tremor in his left hand. In turn, it would allow the once-exceptional golfer to regain control over his golf clubs.

The surgery was a success and he got his desired results on the golf course. In the process, he also gained so much more.

"Yeah, I've been through a lot but I feel like that it's made me a better man and a better person," he said, adding that he used to be selfish and self-centered but now enjoys teaching others. "And I think also I've been able to help a lot of people."

Though Simpson still hasn't won on the Champions Tour since the surgery in 2005, he's come close recently. In his last five starts on the Tour, Simpson has twice tied for second.

After one round at the Senior PGA Championship, he sits in a tie for fourth at 1 over par. If not for an ill-timed bogey at No. 18, Simpson could have shot an even-par 70 instead of 71.

For a man who has been through so much -- in addition to the neurological disorder, he also suffers from Lyme disease and endured a tough divorce -- he's happy to have a second chance at golf.

At the same time, don't think he's just here to take in the scenery. The four-time PGA Tour winner is hungry for his fifth professional title.

"I had a guy tell me today before I teed off, he said, 'You've already won,'" Simpson said. "But the inner drive in me, I feel like I haven't come full circle until I do win.

"(Yet) if I don't ever win again," he added, "I don't think I'll be frowning when I die."

Before his surgery, while doctors were still experimenting with other treatments for his condition, Simpson gave up his remaining status on the PGA Tour and returned to the Nationwide Tour to "rehab."

He formed relationships with a few players on that Tour and the Georgia resident now mentors several up-and-comers on the Hooters Tour and on the women's golf team at the University of Georgia.

"I helped Tom Pernice and Frank Lickliter. They forgot my number, though," Simpson joked about the now-famoous PGA Tour golfers. "I love helping young people. I'm a better teacher than I ever was a player."

One of Simpson's prot�g�s is a young man named D.J. Fiese. Three years ago, Fiese was preparing to play in the PGA Tour National Qualifying Tournament. While driving one day a few months before Q-School, Fiese took one arm off the wheel to grab a map from the backseat and swerved off the road.

"He went off the road and rolled like seven times. And every time his SUV rolled, his arm went out the window and it rolled on top of it and it fractured the big bone in his upper arm," Simpson said.

After three surgeries, they told Fiese he would never play again. Exactly one year later, he won on the Hooters Tour. When Simpson heard Fiese's story, one so similar to his own, Simpson wanted to help Fiese hone his swing and learn some of Simpson's renowned ball-striking skills.

"I've had the greatest blessing of working with the best of the best of the best over the past 30 years. From the Butch Harmons to Sam Snead and Byron Nelson helping me. They took an interest in me. Sam took a tremendous interest in me," Simpson said.

"I felt like, when I was out of the game, that it was kind of my duty to put back into the game. To try to help a couple of young players and help them achieve some of the dreams I was fortunate enough to achieve."

Off the golf course, Simpson also counsels folks facing the same scary surgery that he went through. After learning about his story, many people go to great lengths to track him down and share their experience.

"I don't know how people get my number. I don't know how people get my confidential email with the PGA Tour but they get in touch with me," Simpson said.

He encourages others facing a similar battle not to give up. Ask anyone affiliated with the Tour and they will tell you -- Tim Simpson does not know the word quit.

"I think that the Good Lord gives some people more than others in certain areas, whether it's speed or muscles or whatever," Simpson added. "And I think in my case He gave me a heck of a heart."

For instance, the first two words out of Tim Simpson's mouth when he sat down for his post-round interview reflected his never-say-die attitude.

"I survived," he said of the extremely challenging conditions at Oak Hill Country Club. "(That was) probably the toughest course I've ever played in my PGA Tour career."

But, as usual, he did more than survive. He thrived.

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