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March 7, 2008

Tim Simpson


DAVE SENKO: Tim, thanks for joining us. Terrific start, 8-under, which according to our media guides, matches your career low on the PGA Tour. Last time you did that was at the '89 Southern Open, and did it three times on Tour.
But have you had any competitive rounds you can recall that might have been lower than that like outside the PGA Tour and the Nationwide Tour?
TIM SIMPSON: I shot 60 one year at the Georgia Open. I don't remember if it was in the tournament or the Pro-Am. I don't remember.
Anyway, I'll take it. It was a good day for me. It would be mediocre for Tiger. I'm really pleased. I've really been battling some pretty nasty sciatica for several years since I started back playing. Having these last two weeks off was very beneficial, because I worked pretty much every day, certainly every other day, with my chiropractor and got it to feeling a whole a lot better.
It was bothering me a little bit today at different times on the course, but, you know, it's just nice to play a good, solid round. I had made some very nice putts, especially on my back 9. The front 9, missed a couple short ones. Missed a five-footer at 17 and a three-footer for birdie also at No. 3 where I knock it had on the front fringe in two and I three-putted.
But you know what, I made some great putts. I came right back at 4 and made 30-foot breaker, you know, a 10-foot break-in putt, and then I'd make a 25-footer or something on the next hole and a 25-footer on the next hole.
It's like, Wow. And I was playing with Don Pooley, and he's a great friend of mine, and great putter. I was like, You're rubbing off on me. It was fun.
I'm very grateful, probably the most grateful player out here. As you all know, I shouldn't be playing anymore. Last weekend was my three-year anniversary from my brain surgery. The fact that I am able to play again and to compete is really remarkable. It really is. I mean, I'm a walking miracle.
It's gratifying because I know it's still in there. Whether I continue to play great this week or whether it's next week or sometime later, I know it's still in there. But you have to keep getting there to get that confidence back.
I was out of the game a long time. I was out of the game for six or seven years. When I retired in '97, really looking back, I probably should have retired in '93 or '94. I was out of the game a long time.
The hardest thing I struggled with coming back is getting my confidence back. You know, just feeling like you're in total command. But I'm pleased. It's a nice way to start. It's a beautiful course in beautiful condition. The ironic thing is poana greens give my fits. I really struggle putting on poana.
I made some great putts today, and hopefully I can continue to throughout the weekend. For whatever it's worth, I got a less last night from my lifelong teacher 2,500 miles away back in Georgia via the telephone. I e-mailed him when we hung up. I said, isn't it amazing that after 38 years, we're so close I know what you're going to say before you even say it, and that you can actually give me a lesson over the phone.
That's pretty cool. He started teaching me when I was 14. He said, Just try to do it on the range. I was able to implement it on the course today, and I hit some beautiful shots. I hit a couple shots to the left, but hit some nice shots. Looking forward to the weekend.
DAVE SENKO: Do you remember your birdies on the back 9? I guess the front 9, No. 15, the Par 5, do you remember?
TIM SIMPSON: I got a hole in my head. I can't remember what I had for lunch. Let me see, yeah, it really kind of started off pretty boring. I par'd the first five or six holes, or first five or something.
Then 16, hit a nice drive and knocked it on in two. Hit a very nice 4-iron in there about 25 feet and two-putted.
Then the next hole hot a nice 6-iron in there about 15 feet above the pin and made it.
Then 18, I two-putted from the front fringe.
No. 2 I obviously played that nine first. No. 2 I made about a five-footer.
No. 3, I three-putted, and then No.4 I made, you know, a 30-foot, big, sweeping breaking Tiger putt.
The next hole I made probably a 25-footer.
Then No. 7 I made about a three-footer.
Actually hit very nice shots on the last two holes and wasn't able to convert the ball. The last hole it kind of hit on a hard spot and bounced over on the back fringe, but I'm pleased. I just want to stay aggressive and hopefully continue to play solid. Just great to be playing again.

Q. Your teaching or mentor, what's his name?
TIM SIMPSON: Art Kraft, K-r-a-f-t, like the food. We're very, very close. You know, I mean, it's amazing to me that after 38 years, you know, how can you give somebody a golf lesson over the phone? But we're able to do it.
I don't remember -- we were talking about it last night. I don't remember if it was the first or second year that I won Walt Disney. After three rounds I was leading and I called him and he said, Great playing.
I said, You know, I'm kind of getting by with the putter, which has never been my strongest suit. Ball-striking has always been my better suit. I said, I'm not really hitting it that great. He said, What's the ball doing? I told him, It's kind of going to the right.
He said, Go hit a bucket of balls and call me back. I called him back and said, That was it. Went out the next day and hit every fairway and every green in regulation and won. It's nice to have such a relationship with someone.

Q. How long did it take you to recuperate after you had your surgery? Was there ever a point where you felt normal, like back to your normal self before the surgery?
TIM SIMPSON: No, no, no, no. Even with the medication I was on I continued to shake. I have what's called an essential tremor, which is a non-fatal cousin to Parkinson's where my left hand shakes uncontrollable.
As you might know or you'll read, I have -- I call it a generator. It's kind of like a super Pacemaker. It's pretty big and bulky. As big as my arms are, I hit it when I swing. I don't even notice it anymore. I have a wire goes up my neck and a little bump right here. There's a plastic cap that covers the actual hole in my head.
But it's a great excuse, because when I screw up my wife says, I told you twice to do such and such. I say, What the hell you expect? I got a hole in my head. I'm glad to be out here with all my friends and compadres of so many years. Just great to be playing well again.

Q. You mentioned your back was giving you problems.
TIM SIMPSON: Right hip.

Q. How healthy are you now?
TIM SIMPSON: I'm healthy. I'm heavier than I want to be. I worked out really hard during the winter but I only lost ten pounds, and it was kind of depressing.
I just -- I'd like to lose another 15 pounds. I think it would help my low back and my sciatica. I put on 30 pounds when I was out of the game. When you get older it's harder to get it off.

Q. Given what you've been through, is it safe to say the expectations have changed and now you're just out there and you'll take whatever happens?
TIM SIMPSON: I've still got some fire in me, but, you know, I think now I take time to smell the roses a little bit. You know, I think invariably throughout the years -- all the articles that have been done on me, invariably the reporters at some point will say, How did you keep going on? Because you go from top 10 in the world to out of the game completely to a horrible divorce to your career is over.
My answer, and it really is truthful, I think somehow God puts somebody in my life every day for me to see that is a whole lot worse off than me. Somebody trying to cross the street that had a disability or what have you.
You know, I'm just fortunate. I've been given a second chance, and I try to make the best of it. You know, I try to be an inspiration to young and old people alike to just never give up. Just keep fighting.

Q. I think you had the advantage of knowing the scoreboard when you were behind. Did that change the way you played?
TIM SIMPSON: No. I've never been a really big scoreboard watcher. I glanced up a couple times today. I try to stay focused on what I'm doing and play one shot at a time.
Because of the length of the course and the excellent condition of the course, you know, you can take it deep out here. The course is a little on the shortish side. It's a beautiful old-style course. It's not a new, 7,500, stand-up-and-beat-on-it course. You have to shake the ball on some holes out here. It's really a nice design.
If you get it going you can take it deep out here, as Tom Purtzer did a few years ago. 60 is really deep. Ironically, my caddie, Mo, was caddying for Tom when he won here and shot 60. His name is Rich Motacki, but I call him Mo. M-o-t-a-c-k-i. I know it well, because I have to write his checks every week. Thanks. Hope I see you tomorrow.

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