Playing for grieving caddie, Simpson takes share of lead
Published: January 5, 2014 11:38PM
Updated: March 24, 2014 11:32PM
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Marco Garcia | The Associated Press Webb Simpson drives off the 18th tee box during the third round of the Tournament of Champions golf tournament, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Kapalua, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Kapalua, Hawaii • Webb Simpson wanted to give his caddie some good news from the golf course Sunday. He delivered a 5-under 68 that gave Simpson a three-way tie for the lead with defending champion Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth going into the final round of the Tournament of Champions.

On a glorious day of sun and surf, Simpson played with a heavy heart.

His caddie and friend, Paul Tesori, was in a hospital in Florida with newborn son Isaiah in intensive care. Simpson said the child suffered a seizure shortly after he was born with indications of an infection in his brain.

One of Tesori’s best friends in the business is Ted Scott, the caddie for Bubba Watson, who is filling in this week as Simpson’s caddie. Tesori tweeted that he tuned into the telecast at Kapalua in time to see his son’s name on Scott’s hat.

“Paul sent me a text this morning, just told me he loved me and wanted to go out and fight as hard as I would any other day,” Simpson said. “And that’s what Teddy and I did. I felt like we were out there playing for Isaiah. Paul needs something to watch there in the hospital. It’s been a long few days, so hopefully, we gave him something good to see on TV.”

Winning on Monday won’t be easy.

Simpson ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine, and then hung on with two good pars to reach 14-under 205.

Spieth, the 20-year-old Texan who looks just as good as he did during a sensational rookie season, got back into the mix with a tough birdie on the par-3 eighth and capped off a 69 with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 17th and a long two-putt for par on the 18th.

Spieth won the John Deere Classic last year. This is his first time with at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

The most intimidating figure is Johnson, whose power is suited for the Plantation Course. He also had a 69.

Leaderboard

Tournament of Champions

Webb Simpson -14

Jordan Spieth -14

Dustin Johnson -14

Zach Johnson -12