Simpson takes run at big prize despite tough week

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ATLANTA (AP) - Webb Simpson was never a threat to win the Tour Championship.

But late Sunday, he was still in the running for quite a consolation prize: $10 million and the FedEx Cup.

Simpson, who came into East Lake leading the point standings, opened with a 1-under 69 but failed to break par the rest of the weekend. He closed with a disappointing 73, leaving him 22nd in the 30-player field and 10 strokes behind winner Bill Haas.

Even so, Simpson hung around until the end of the 72nd hole because he still had a chance to win the richest prize in golf if Aaron Baddeley had won the tournament. The Aussie gave it a run with a birdie on the 17th hole, but he settled for par at the 18th and missed the playoff by one stroke.

Haas went on to beat Hunter Mahan on the third extra hole.

Simpson was left to ponder how close he was to the big prize, finishing just 15 points behind Haas.

“I won’t take any negatives from it,” Simpson said. “It’s been a great year.”

Indeed, the 26-year-old Simpson had a breakthrough season with victories at Greensboro, N.C., and in the second event of the FedEx Cup playoff, the Deutsche Bank Championship, which he won in a playoff with Chez Reavie.

Simpson conceded that his nerves got the best of him in Atlanta.

“Usually in the past when I’m nervous, I focus a little better and play a little better,” he said. “It was just my driver pretty much all week. Irons were fine, the putter was fine. I just never got the ball in the fairway.”

Simpson bogeyed the first hole, made another bogey at the fifth and lost any chance to contend when he dumped his tee shot at the par-3 sixth into the water, leading to a double bogey. Two more bogeys after the turn left him 5 over for the day, so far out of the running that he finally calmed down.

“I never gave up, but the cord snaps and you kind of get over it,” Simpson said. “Not to say that you don’t care, but you don’t care about the results anymore in a good way. I made a couple of birdies right after that and kind of felt a little more relaxed.”

Simpson hit a brilliant approach at No. 17 to set up another birdie try, but the putt wouldn’t drop. When he finished with a par at the 18th, he knew his only hope of winning all that money was if Baddeley won. He headed to the clubhouse to watch the rest of the round on television, joking that Baddeley is “my good friend right now.”

But he couldn’t pull against Haas, who’s also a good friend.

“I’m already kind of at the point where whatever happens happens,” Simpson said. “I’m a little disappointed I didn’t play any better, but I’m pretty tired right now. It’s kind of shown in my golf game this week.”

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