2013 PGA Championship Interview Transcript: WEBB SIMPSON


2013 PGA Championship Interview Transcript: WEBB SIMPSON

KELLY ELBIN: Webb Simpson, joining us in the second round of the 95th PGA Championship. Webb today fired a 6 under par 64 here at Oak Hill, which ties the all time competitive course record on the East Course first set by Ben Hogan in 1942 at The Times Union Open and matched by Curtis Strange at the United States Open in 1989. Webb, a bit of history for you today. Obviously a terrific round. Congratulations and comments on the round, please.

WEBB SIMPSON: Thank you. It was a great day. I thank the Lord for giving me patience yesterday; at 5 over through eight holes it was a pretty low moment for me. But I kind of had a pep talk with myself on the seventh green, and you know, just told myself, one hole at a time and tried to get a birdie here, a birdie there, and somehow played the last ten or 11 holes under par.

I was able to do that, and I birdied 18 yesterday, which was huge for my confidence. 2 over felt like 64 yesterday after being 5 over. So extremely happy with my game today. All around, it was really solid. I made some great putts, made some good par putts to kind of keep the momentum going. You know, special feeling to have tied the course record here at Oak Hill.

KELLY ELBIN: You shot 32 on your second nine today and 32 on each of the two nines today. Could you go through your birdies and bogeys.

WEBB SIMPSON: Starting on 10, I hit it close, a couple feet. On 11 I made about a 15 or 18 footer for birdie. That hole is playing pretty difficult today.

On 14, I chipped it to about six feet and made birdie.

2, I hit a 7 iron to about ten feet and made that.

3, I hit a 4 iron to 12 feet above the hole and made that.

5, I made a long one. I made about a 35 footer there.

6, the par 3, I hit a 7 iron to ten feet and made that.

7, drove it in the fairway, but that's such a tough hole, and I was trying to cut it around the tree and just cut it too much. Hit the tree and made an easy bogey.

Q. Can you talk about what the last 14 months have been like for you, going from winning the U.S. Open to here now?

WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, obviously I didn't know what to expect, but I feel like the transition to being a Major Champion was smooth. I felt like I kept playing well the rest of the summer. Yeah, I wish I could have had a victory since then, but you know, we've been working hard all year trying to get better, and I feel like I'm better. Even though the results really haven't been showing it this year; came close at Hilton Head in a playoff with Graeme McDowell.

Somebody told me that the older you get, the more special you'll realize what the U.S. Open meant, and that's what it's been like. Every day I've thought about it, and winning the U.S. Open has made me want to get back into contention in golf tournaments and Majors all the more.

It's hard to believe it was over a year ago.

Q. Can you walk us through the last three holes or so, trying to shoot 62 and be the first player to do that? What were you thinking and feeling over that stretch?

WEBB SIMPSON: I was thinking about it, once I birdied 6, I was thinking about the all time major record, and I was about 99 percent sure it was 63. It's so hard, because on one hand, you want to go for it. You want go for the record. But you can't do that on a golf course this hard and I wasn't doing that at any point today. I was trying to be patient and trying to be conservative.

So it's that balance of, how much do you go for it and how much do you continue to do what you're doing. I tried to continue just my same routine and my same thoughts. On 8, I thought I made the birdie putt but it just came up short, and I hit a poor iron shot on 9. So I was thinking about it.

Q. When guys are throwing a no hitter in baseball, seems like their teammates get away from them and nobody wants to break the groove; when you realized 63 was a legitimate number, did you and Paul start to talk about it or was the conversation of going for it in your head or internal?

WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, it was in my head. I knew he was thinking about it. I didn't want to talk about it because I thought it would be the wrong thing to focus oncoming in.

You know, this game is so funny, when you try to make birdies, it seems like you don't. It was there. It's like the elephant in the room; I knew he was thinking about it. I haven't even talked to him, but I'm sure he was.

Q. Back to winning a major, how does that translate into your manner on the course? Even yesterday, when you're 5 over, does that give you a feeling that you can get it back?

WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I think to win a major, you know, you have to be mentally tough. I don't think there's anybody that's ever won a major that's not ... that doesn't have a great mind. And most of the guys on the PGA TOUR do have great minds.

When you're in that situation, you can't just go from 5 over to even. I mean, there's a process. So the only thing ... in the moment, it's hard to say this, but the only thing that mattered when I was 5 over was the next tee shot. You know, I'm a fast paced guy as it is; I want to get there and get it done quick, and you just can't do that.

So it's a harder discipline when you're 5 over to try to stay patient than at any point in the game. I mean, so, yesterday, I said, if I have any chance in this golf tournament, any chance at all just to contend, I have to be patient the rest of the day. I wanted to get mad. Wanted to throw clubs and do all that, but it wasn't going to help anything.

Q. You said you are a fast player; did dropping to a twosome and having to wait on almost every shot, did that bother you at all? And also, when did you start to think about the record? I know some guys don't even look at score boards; is that something that you do, that as you're playing, you realize, hey, I've got something going here.

WEBB SIMPSON: When Angel withdrew, it actually made it better in the sense that it was still raining and we could take our time more. I felt like we were rushing all day, even though it took forever to play. And then we waited the last few holes, but I think we would have waited regardless, so it didn't really have an effect on us.

But your second question, I probably ... I made that long putt on 5, and I got to 6 under. That was probably my first thought about the record. Before that, I made the turn ... I'm still trying to make the cut. It's amazing how a day like today, you go from outside the cut line to just in to going for the all time major record. It's a big swing of emotions.

But the mind is powerful, so I was just trying to not think about it and just stay kind of in my rhythm.

Q. The traditional thinking is it's difficult to come back after a round like this, and even have a good round the next day. One, do you subscribe to that belief? And two, for you personally, what's your history coming off of rounds like this?

WEBB SIMPSON: Well, I think if you give the course you're playing proper respect, you know and I go out tomorrow not expecting to shoot 64 again, I think I'll be in a good spot. Tomorrow is a brand new day. It's probably going to dry out a bit.

I think I'll be okay with that. Not saying I'll play well, but I don't think that will affect me necessarily. I think it's harder when you're playing somewhere where all the scores are very low and you go out and shoot a low number. In that situation, you're trying to press and make birdies. Here, you don't really have to make birdies, as long as you're kind of hanging around par.

I forgot your second question.

KELLY ELBIN: What's your history coming off of a round like this.

WEBB SIMPSON: I think my average after hot rounds is 65, I'm not sure ... no, I'm just kidding. (Laughing).

I grew up playing a short golf course where I shot a lot of low numbers. My caddie always tells me, he thinks I need to do that more and get used to shooting low numbers more. So hopefully I'll play well.

Q. Can you talk about your strategy for choice of clubs off the tee, how many drivers you hit versus 3 woods, and how that maybe changed today versus yesterday?

WEBB SIMPSON: Well, it was completely different. I mean, 18 in the practice round, we hit 5 wood, 7 iron, and today we hit driver, 4 iron.

So the holes today, I hit driver, 3 wood into 17, the par 4. So I hit a lot more drivers today than I typically would. The holes where I hit 5 wood off the tee, I probably hit 3 wood today. It's just because the balls weren't getting any roll. They were plugging in the fairway.

But I think that will change for tomorrow. I think it will dry out enough.

Q. How many drivers?

WEBB SIMPSON: I probably hit ... out of 14 today, I probably hit nine, would be my guess.

Q. Yesterday you had the rain delay and this morning you were playing through some fairly hefty downpours. How do you think the rain affected your score today?

WEBB SIMPSON: You know, it's hard to say, because what rain does is makes it a little harder to hit good shots. But in terms of your swing, because you have so much to deal with towels and wet gloves and wet grips, it's a lot harder work. But at the same time, it softened the greens up enough to where our approach shots, we could be more aggressive.

You know, it's kind of ... I could see it either way. I'm sure there's a lot of high scores this morning just because the course is so long and the rough is brutal. But at the same time, there's a lot of guys hitting iron shots close.

Q. What do you think about the fact that the record you tied today was first set by Ben Hogan in 1942 and has not been broken since then?

WEBB SIMPSON: It's pretty special. I had no idea what the course record was. But you know, any time you can put your name near Ben Hogan, it's a great thing. So it will go down as one of my most special rounds ever.

I don't think not tying the major record takes away from the fact that, you know, I was able to tie this course record. It was just fun; fun to experience something like that.

Q. Talk a little bit more about the course conditions. Was there a lot of water out there, and how did you find the greens, the consistency in terms of putting?

WEBB SIMPSON: We were surprised that there wasn't as much water as what we all thought. I mean, none of the greens puddled up. The greens were a lot faster than I thought they would be.

I made a putt on 11, but I thought when I hit it, I left it short and it ended up going in the hole with plenty of speed. Yeah, you just kind of have to adjust as the day goes on. They got a little slower as the round ended, but still much faster than I imagined. They were soft, but you couldn't really tell they were affected much by the rain in terms of the speed.

Q. Just a follow up on your thoughts before about being Open Champion. How does it affect you; when you come into a major, do you feel different about yourself because you've won a major?

WEBB SIMPSON: A little bit. I mean, I think it just gives me confidence knowing that if I get in contention this week or next year at Augusta, any of them, I know what to expect, because I was in contention there on Sunday.

I think more than anything, it just gives me a little bit of peace knowing there's not many unknowns. I know when I won the Wyndham in 2011, winning the second would be easier, but it's just as hard. I think mentally it frees you up to know, okay, kind of know what to expect this weekend.

KELLY ELBIN: Webb Simpson, tying the competitive course record, thank you very much.

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