SONOMA, Calif.--Scott Simpson hit practice putts Wednesday after his pro-am round in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. It was an idyllic afternoon, far from the harrowing conditions that caused the 1987 U.S. Open champion to flee his house Monday as a fire threatened his neighborhood in Poway, Calif.
"It's the Witch Creek fire," Simpson said. "It probably got within a quarter-mile of us. It burned a lot of houses in Poway and Rancho Bernardo, which is right where we live. Four years ago a fire got within about a mile from us, but we weren't really in danger. This one is a lot different--this one burned a lot of houses near us."
Simpson and his wife, Cheryl, had not yet been told to evacuate when they drove a short distance to take a look at the encroaching blaze. "We saw smoke getting closer and closer, and we spoke with some cops who asked us where we lived," Simpson said. "When we told them just up the street, they said we better evacuate."
The Simpsons' hasty retreat meant few things came with them. "We got the computer and photo albums, and my wife thought to get the U.S. Open trophy, then we left," Simpson said. "Then we thought about all the things we should have gotten: passports and watches, other valuables. I think [the house] is going to be OK unless something weird happens. I've heard they've got National Guard [troops] with M-16s all around the neighborhood. Our security system just went up. It puts your house in perspective. Like my wife said, it's only a house."