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Brett Simpson wins the U.S. Open of Surfing

He defeats Mick Fanning to win the title in his hometown of Huntington Beach.

July 27, 2009|Mario Aguirre

Brett Simpson chose to be a surfer, which isn't what you expect your son to choose as a career, but it was OK with his father, Bill, who supported the family with his earnings from a nine-year career as an NFL safety.

On Sunday, Brett won the U.S. Open of Surfing in his hometown, Huntington Beach. But just for good measure, his father fielded questions about his son's career decision just moments after Brett's victory.

More specifically, if he had had a choice, which sport would he have preferred for his son?

"Uhhh, surfing!" his father said, dangling his son's oversized check.

"We'll take the hundred grand."

Perhaps the record purse prompted his response, but after Sunday, it seems no one would have objected to Simpson's decision to pursue surfing. Except for Mick Fanning.

The 28-year-old Australian failed to post higher scores than Simpson on any wave in the men's final Sunday.

"He might want to punch me now," Simpson said jokingly. "He's such a good competitor, and he took it real good. And I'm sure he's [mad], but at the same time he said he's stoked for me. So I'm stoked."

Simpson cobbled together a combined score of 16.93 off his second and third waves (7.83 and 9.10, respectively).

Fanning peaked early, scoring his best, 5.00 and 7.50, in the first two waves, and failed to score anything better after that.

The door essentially opened for Simpson when Adriano de Souza upset nine-time ASP world champion Kelly Slater in the quarterfinals.

"It's sudden death here, so if you don't go out and perform for that 25 minutes, you're done," Slater, who was favored to win the tournament, said afterward.

"I just didn't do what I had to do."

Fanning eliminated de Souza to advance to the men's final and didn't seem too disappointed about finishing in second place.

"Making the final was a big bonus for me," he said smiling. "You know, I had $100,000 worth of fun anyway."

Simpson's victory was not short of story lines. His father, who was a second-round pick in the 1974 NFL draft and spent five seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, said he didn't pressure his son to choose between football and surfing because that would have been a difficult fight.

"Once he got into surfing, he committed himself to it," Bill said.

"And once I saw that, I didn't feel that he should go anywhere else but there. Because he had really committed himself to that 100% . . . today is kind of the crowning moment of that."

At 13, his father brought him to Huntington Beach for the first time, adding more significance to his victory Sunday.

"It's been my lifelong dream to be on this podium," Brett, 24, said.

"To do it at home, it was like . . . there's not that many words that I can describe it. My body like wants to break out.

"I'm speechless."


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