BRADENTON, Fla. — The latest World Golf Championship event has gone to nine venues with five title names since it began in 1999. What hasn’t changed is a field that pulls in players from all over the world, some of whom have next to no name recognition.
Trevor Simsby took that to another level last week at the Workday Championship.
He had never played a PGA Tour event. A member of the Asian Tour, the 28-year-old Californian had not played on any recognized tour in a full year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And then he had a week to remember.
Along with making a hole-in-one on Saturday, he tied for 37th to finish ahead of Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele. He earned $59,000, more than he had made in 21 events during his rookie year in Asia.
“I think I handled everything pretty well,” Simsby said. “It was a huge stage and a lot of pressure.”
Most bizarre is how Simsby even got into the field for the $10.5 million event at The Concession.
Simsby finished his college career at Washington and tried the Korn Ferry Tour and the PGA Tour Latinoamerica without any success. He missed the cut in 14 out of the 16 events he played on the Korn Ferry, and he didn’t cash a check in any of the six Latinoamerica events.
So he decided to give it one last shot, headed to Asia in 2018 and made it through Q-school to get an Asian Tour card. In 11 events, he made $27,282 to finish 84th on the money list in 2019. To fill gaps in his schedule, Simsby played 10 times on the Asian Development Tour and made $24,883 to finish seventh on the money list.
That’s what got him into the field at the Malaysian Open at the start of 2020, and he won a three-man playoff. And then the pandemic hit. The Asian Tour was only four tournaments into the season when golf was shut down. The Workday Championship with its $10.5 million purse takes the top two from the previous year’s money list on the Asian Tour.
Simsby was No. 2.
And then he had nowhere to play.
“I thought we would go back (to Asia) by the end of the summer,” he said. “This one was kind of on the radar after the Malaysian Open, knowing I might get into something like this.”
He thinks he played five times since winning the Malaysian Open. He just can’t remember where.
Simsby was going to play the Nevada Open until he got sick. He failed to qualify for the Colorado Open. And then a week before going to the World Golf Championship, he played the Bayonet Championship in Monterey, California, withdrawing after one round because his elbow was sore and he didn’t want to risk it.
He showed up to face a field that had 47 of the top 50 in the world, and he held his own.
“I got here on Monday and I just had a blast just trying to figure out this golf course, trying to pick it apart and also seeing every guy that I’ve looked up to growing up,” Simsby said. “I was a slow starter in high school, slow starter in college and professional golf has been a tough road. I feel I’ve got more of a hold on it going forward.
“I can take a lot of positives from this week.”
This wouldn’t be the first time he was in the right place at the right time. As a 15-year-old in San Diego, he was a standard bearer in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He was in the group Sunday with Rocco Mediate, who wound up losing to Tiger Woods in a playoff the next day.
“We’re supposed to follow the group to the scoring area after it’s done, but we stood behind the green and waited for Tiger because we knew it was close,” he said. “So we were there for that final putt when he got into a playoff. I think that was the loudest roar I’ve ever heard.”