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The Hangover
MICHAEL BAMBERGER
July 02, 2012
As newly crowned U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson—along with 10 other major winners who teed it up at the Travelers—can attest, playing the week after winning a big one is never easy
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July 02, 2012

The Hangover

As newly crowned U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson—along with 10 other major winners who teed it up at the Travelers—can attest, playing the week after winning a big one is never easy

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Cabrera was asked last week how he enjoyed his longish break between winning the U.S. Open at Oakmont in '07 and playing in the British Open at Carnoustie. "No, no," the Argentine golfer said, correcting an error. "I played in Europe two weeks later." His English, despite his claims to the contrary, is excellent, and so is his memory. He teed it up in the '07 European Open at the K Club, outside Dublin, playing for $4.8 million in prize money and most likely a hefty appearance fee. He finished 60th and said something brilliant in a pretournament press conference: "The U.S. Open is over." In other words, he was getting on with his life and not changing a thing. He didn't stay at the five-star resort at the K Club. He stayed at a more modest hotel, in a place he had stayed before.

On Friday at St. Andrews at the 2010 British Open, King Louis had a five-shot lead, and the weather was horrendous. He asked his manager, Chubby Chandler, to withdraw him from his next event, the Scandinavian Masters, played the week after the Open. Then on Sunday, when he won the Open by seven shots, he and Chandler concluded "that the best thing for me was to keep on playing," Oosthuizen said last week. Chandler made a call, and the Scandinavian Masters people were happy to have Oosthuizen back in the tournament. He finished fourth. "My feeling was if I went home [to South Africa], I'd spend the whole week doing media," Oosthuizen said. "If I played, I'd do the media early in the week and then I'd play." That was a common theme among the Major 11—that increased media interest requires serious management.

"That's one of the reasons Tiger has played so well, he didn't win his majors and then go running all over the place doing TV," Singh said last week, with obvious admiration.

Woods twice followed up victories in the PGA with wins the next week, at Firestone in 2000 and '06. (Tiger won a third straight week in '06, at the Deutsche Bank.) Singh did the same in '98, winning the PGA at Sahalee, then at Castle Pines. When he talked about that fortnight last week, his words seemed to come out of a dream state. "You're so relaxed," Singh said. "You're swinging well, everything's good. Your good shots are good, your bad shots are good. You're happy."

Harrington didn't remember that Singh had won back to back, but he did remember, with some awe, that Bernhard Langer won the 1985 Masters and the following week at Hilton Head. In his three major wins, Harrington has always taken at least a week off before playing again and has never finished better than 14th. "It's going to hit you eventually," Harrington said last Friday. "Seeing Webb play well this week is really quite something, because winning a major will take a lot out of you." Harrington said he was still dog-tired when he won the 2008 PGA a month after taking the British Open. When you consider that, it makes the four times that Woods has won consecutive majors amazingly, deeply impressive.

Harrington proved to be prescient. After rounds of 66, 69 and 68 at Hartford, Simpson was seven under and not completely out of it, not on a course that can produce some very low scores. Yes, he would have had to pull a Mahan (Hunter closed with a 61 at Hartford), but it was doable. Simpson shot a one-over 71 and finished 29th, eight strokes back. The tank was empty. Simpson won't be playing in the British Open, not because of exhaustion but because of his wife's pregnancy.

"I was hoping to play a little better today," Simpson said on Sunday evening. "But it's nice to be done, and I can't wait to head home tonight and see my wife and son and have a week off to simply let things sink in a bit and get some rest."

Ten of his fellow competitors last week knew exactly what he was talking about.

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