WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - Ken Duke had a lot of help in his corner Sunday as he took aim at his first PGA Tour victory.Earlier this week, Duke flew legendary swing coach Bob Toski, 85, to town to help steady his game.Before playing on Sunday, though, Duke tapped into another limitless source of good information, state golf icon Bill Campbell of Huntington.The 89-year-old Campbell, a World Golf Hall of Fame member, captured 15 West Virginia Amateur championships and three State Open titles.
Duke, a Palm City, Fla., resident, said he wasn't aware of Campbell's storied background before Sunday."I didn't know that, but now I do,'' Duke said following a round of even-par 70 that left him tied for seventh at 11-under 269."I had lunch with them today and these two guys go back a long way. Just hearing some stories that they had to talk about was pretty impressive."That's kind of the way I took [it] into the day - to try and have fun and be relaxed like those guys are. It seemed like that's the way they played back in that day. Maybe [Ben] Hogan [wasn't], but everyone else was pretty loose. It was a great day.''Interestingly, it marked the fifth tie for seventh place this season for Duke. His best finish was a tie for fifth in the Transitions Classic.He was near the lead at 14 under through 14 holes on Sunday, but back-to-back double bogeys on the 15th and 16th knocked him out of contention."I hit some good shots and I hit a couple bad ones,'' Duke said, "but that's the way it goes. But I felt good about my game, and played good."It's always good to finish in the top 10, and [I enjoyed] coming here - I've never been here before.''Watson's wordsWebb Simpson said he received a lot of texts and emails from older golfers bearing good advice following his U.S. Open victory in June."The best piece of advice I got was from [Tom] Watson,'' Simpson said, referring to The Greenbrier's pro emeritus. "He said winning a major championship is great, but it doesn't really change the way you are as a golfer aside from the experience.
"So I took that to heart and I kind of put it in my mind that I was going to work harder than I did leading up to the U.S. Open. I didn't want to settle or become complacent after winning a major. I wanted to stay hungry. It's easy to do. It's easy to win a big tournament and kind of get a little lazy, so it's been a good motivator for me to work a little harder.''No world-wide WebbSimpson decided a few weeks ago to skip the July 19-22 British Open in order to stay with his wife Dowd and await the birth of their second child.Dowd Simpson is due in late July. Their first child, 16-month-old James, arrived before his due date.Webb Simpson thus passes on the chance to become the seventh man to win both the U.S. Open and British Open in the same year. After competing in the Greenbrier Classic, he plans to be home for three weeks."The British Open will always be there,'' Simpson told the Charlotte Observer. "This may be the last child we have. It's a decision I haven't thought twice about.''
Act your ageAfter succeeding where golf superstars such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson failed this week - that is, making the cut at the Greenbrier Classic - the 62-year-old Watson can start picking on someone his own age.Watson completed his tournament with a 5-over 75 Sunday, his worst round of the week that left him tied for next-to-last place among those who made the cut with a 4-over 284. Arjun Atwal (at 286) was the only four-round golfer with a higher score.Still, The Greenbrier's golf ambassador took away some positives from a rare appearance in a PGA Tour event."I drove the ball well this week, and that portends well for the U.S. Senior Open next week,'' Watson said, "and on to the British Open and the Senior British Open in the next three weeks. And I started putting the ball very well today, made an adjustment in my putting. So there were some real good signs for maybe next week."That's what you have to take from a week like this week. You know, the hospitality here at The Greenbrier, the great food, all the amenities that you have to come and enjoy here. It's just a very, very special place. I'm glad to be associated with it.''Chip shotsJustin Thomas of Goshen, Ky., the lone amateur left in the field, finished the week Sunday with his worst round, a 2-over 72 that left him at 4-under 276.John Daly on the 95-degree heat that baked Old White all week: "This is still pretty cold compared to Arkansas right now. I'm begging for rain at my course. We haven't had any rain there since June 16 - Father's Day weekend. At least y'all have had some rain. I love this heat and humidity. It's good for the bones for me.''Roberto Castro, a 27-year-old from Atlanta, had the day's best round at 7-under 63 with seven birdies and no bogeys.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org