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Golf Tidbits: What lies ahead for Simpson

Thu 21st, June 2012

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Webb Simpson said he could barely feel his legs on the back nine Sunday at the U.S. Open. I hope he liked that feeling, because he's going to have to get used to it.

Whether Simpson liked the pressure is one story, and how he deals with it going forward is another.

He has all but locked up a spot on the Ryder Cup team. If he thought winning the U.S. Open was pressure, try holing the winning putt at the Ryder Cup?

Simpson was the ninth straight first-time major champion, so he can ask the eight major winners before him how to handle the pressure and stress going forward.

The first step that he took, which says a lot about him, is staying committed to playing this week's Travelers Championship. He follows in the footsteps of 2011 Masters champ Charl Schwartzel in staying committed to the following week's event.

Schwartzel eschewed days worth of media interviews that would have taken him from city to city, and increased his name and marketing ability, to remain committed to the Malaysian Open the week after the Masters. The South African flew halfway around the world and tied for 11th that week.

Among the past eight new major winners, that wasn't the best next start, but it allowed Schwartzel to keep his momentum going.

Let's look at what the last eight major winners have done, and see where Simpson will fit in.

Graeme McDowell began this run of first-time major champions at the 2010 U.S. Open. He went on to pick up two more wins that year, one official and one unofficial, where he beat Tiger Woods at Woods' Chevron World Challenge.

McDowell ran up nine top five finishes in 2010 and 2011. The Northern Irishman missed the cut in four of his next six majors, but has been in contention at the first two majors this year. He had a putt on the 72nd hole at the U.S. Open to force a playoff, but missed.

Following McDowell's win at the U.S. Open was Louis Oosthuizen's runaway win at the British Open. Oosthuizen's game has really taken a step forward since, as he has three victories on the European Tour. Like McDowell, Oosthuizen struggled at the majors, missing the cut in five of the next seven.

However, Oosthuizen had one of the memorable shots at the Masters -- where he had a double-eagle -- before losing to Bubba Watson in playoff.

Martin Kaymer was the next first-time major winner as he beat Watson in a playoff at Whistling Straits. He easily had the best follow-up among the eight first-timers. Kaymer won both of his next two starts, and finished inside the top 30 in each of his next six events.

The German collected two more wins in 2011. In the majors, Kaymer has a pair of missed cuts and a pair of top-20 finishes.

Schwartzel has posted the best record in the majors since his breakthrough win. He has made the cut in all five majors since his win at Augusta.

The South African followed his win at Augusta with a share of ninth at the U.S. Open. He went on to tie for 16th at the British and ended alongside six others at 1-under par at the PGA Championship.

Rory McIlroy has been the most successful of the eight, as he reached No. 1 in the world three times since his record-setting win at Congressional. The Northern Irishman had six top-six finishes last year after his U.S. Open win. He has struggled of late, missing four of his last five cuts, but has tallied four top-threes this year

The third Northern Irishman among the eight to win his first major was Darren Clarke. Unfortunately, he is also the one who has struggled the most. Since last July, Clarke has missed nine cuts worldwide, including at the PGA Championship and the Masters, and has only two top-20 finishes and is out with a groin injury.

Keegan Bradley was the seventh of the eight first-time major winners before Simpson. Bradley has made the cut in the two subsequent majors, and he posted three top-10 finishes in a five-event stretch earlier this year, but missed the cut in two of his next three starts.

Watson beat Oosthuizen earlier this year at the Masters. He missed the cut in two of his three starts since the Masters, but has been focused on something more important, his family. Watson and his wife adopted a baby boy just before the Masters and he has spent as much time with them and possible.

And Simpson is following in his footsteps as he announced Thursday that he will skip the British Open because his second child is due to be born around the time of the championship.

Where will Simpson fall among this group? Will he collect a bunch more wins like Oosthuizen or Kaymer? Will he struggle like Clarke?

Time will tell of course, but with his pedigree, the breakthrough win at The Olympic Club will likely be the start of many big things to come.

WOODS NEEDS CONSISTENCY

If you're looking for an explanation of Tiger Woods' up and down play of late, just look at his scores.

Since opening 69-65 en route to winning at Bay Hill, Woods has gone 20 rounds without posting consecutive rounds in the 60s, and only once has he put together back-to-back subpar rounds.

People have always wanted to see more of Woods on the course and in two weeks, you'll see him at another new event. First, he added the Honda Classic to his schedule earlier this year, and he'll play The Greenbrier Classic the week after competing at his own AT&T National.

Starting next week, Woods will play three of four events with the British Open being the third in that stretch. If he puts two rounds in the 60s together at any of them, he'll be a force to reckon with.

MINI-TIDBITS

* Not to overlook Patrick Cantlay turning pro, but so did Dylan Frittelli, who holed the winning putt at the NCAA Championships a few weeks back. Those are two names you'll be hearing a lot from in the future.

* Beau Hossler was a nice story at the U.S. Open. He'll head to the University of Texas for his college golf, where he'll likely replace Jordan Spieth, who beat Hossler for low amateur honors at The Olympic Club. Spieth hasn't turned pro yet, but may before Hossler becomes his teammate in the fall of 2013.

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