2012 PGA Championship Interview Transcript -- Webb Simpson
KELLY ELBIN: 2012 U.S. Open Champion and father of a new baby girl, Willow Grace, Webb Simpson, joining us at the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course here at Kiawah Island. Webb is appearing in his second PGA Championship. Webb, congratulations for several reasons, and welcome to the 94th PGA Championship.
Q. Do you feel rested after taking a month off, and have you gotten back into the golfing mindset?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I felt a little rust yesterday on the first nine holes. You know, I've played a lot of golf the last two weeks at home, and it's just always different when you get out here around other players. But it wore off on the back nine and I hit it well today.
I'm not going to put any pressure on myself for tomorrow. I know that I might feel a little rusty, but at the same time I might get off to a good start. I'm just trying to be patient this week because I know it might take a little time. But hopefully maybe I can get off to a good start and I can get right back into it.
Q. The 16 different winners of the last 16 majors, is it a good thing for golf or does golf need a dominant personality?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think it's been a great thing because the younger generation now you're seeing a lot more than 10 years ago. The main reason I think we're in a great time is because you've got some of the more veteran players, the Strickers, the Mickelsons, Tiger Woods, they're still playing great golf, then you've got the middle generation, Mahan, Kuchar, Bill Haas, and then the young guys like Rory and Keegan, guys that are stepping up and now play to win.
For viewers at home, I think it's more exciting to watch a tournament not really knowing who's going to win. I think there were five or ten years where you knew one or two guys were going to win. I think it's very exciting. You're seeing guys come off the Nationwide Tour winning, as well.
Q. Given your Carolina connections, you live just a few hours up the road, how special would it be to win your second major in the Carolinas?
WEBB SIMPSON: It would be great. I drove down here, so it's always nice to have my car at a tournament. But I've got family and friends that are going to make it here this week, and I'll get a lot of support from people coming out from my school here. It's always nice to play near home, and playing at Greenbrier and Greensboro and Charlotte, when you feel the fans behind you, it's a really good feeling. Hopefully I can deliver for them.
Q. Is there a kind of connection you feel to this area?
WEBB SIMPSON: Absolutely. Any time I can play golf near the beach, I love it. I grew up close to the beach, and when you go to the beach, it just puts me in a relaxed mode. We have a great house this week right near the golf course and has great views. With all the pressure that comes with a major championship, being in a beach vibe I think it certainly going to help me having grown up around here.
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I took a break when I was playing really good golf. To be honest with you, I feel like the first three weeks I was back at home I didn't want to play any golf, and then kind I gradually got back into it. When you pack your bags for three weeks every month for a living, it kind of becomes second nature to you, so I felt like I wanted to pack up and get ready to go. Not that I wanted to leave the family or leave home, but as a competitor you want to always compete. That's why I'm glad to be back.
WEBB SIMPSON: I hadn't watched the full coverage of the U.S. Open. I watched the last few holes. Yeah, any time I can get my hands on a tape I'd love to see what (inaudible) any little thing I can pick up on. When I watched the Open Championship I was watching more to learn than entertainment, and I think you see a lot of guys do that. You really can learn a lot by rewinding and just watching certain things and how the environment changes.
But Pete Dye, when I started golf, I grew up playing golf in Wilmington, and Pete Dye was one of the course designers. That's where I started playing the game, and I love his designs. The more you play Pete Dye, the more you start to understand what he's doing with the bumps and hills.
Q. Do you remember anything about the Azalea Am, and do you remember playing in that and now you're a father and major winner?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, a lot has happened since then. My favorite shot I've ever hit in my golf career was at the Azalea Am in '07 in a playoff. But the best memory from that week was Chris Kirk and I, we always used to get confused, or we confused people. People called me Kirk all the time and people called him Webb. The final round we were paired together and it was April Fool's, so I put on all Georgia gear and my caddie wore Georgia gear, and he and his caddie were all in Wake Forest gear. So we got everybody confused.
But the news reporter in the playoff was commentating it, and actually in the playoff he referred to me as Chris Kirk. It was a fun day. I love coming to Charleston, and any time I get back here I think about the Azalea. Great memories around here.
WEBB SIMPSON: I mean, I think the only thing I think of that if you're coming from behind and you're in the last group or the last two groups, all the focus is on you, so I think it's a little harder to get the job done. I think it was a perfect spot for me to be in because in a major I've never been in the last group, and I have been at a regular event, and each time is a learning experience. It's a tough position to win in, being the leader, being chased. You know, I don't know how common or how common it's been in years before now, but if you ask me would I want a one?shot lead or be one back, I'd still take a one?shot lead.
Q. Have you been paying attention at all to the chatter about the long and the belly putters and the fact that people that you respect a lot feel that it should be banned?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I pay attention a little bit. I've been putting with a short putter a lot at home, just practicing, and from what I gather, I feel like it's all rumors. They're going to have a meeting in September to make a once?and?for?all rule about it. I've always heard it won't take effect until 2016 because that's when the rules will change.
But you know, my theory is that I'm going to be ready for it. I ordered two Scotty Camerons a month ago and I've been working with them. I don't want to be surprised by it. I'm almost kind of telling myself to expect it, and we'll see what happens.
Do I think they should be banned? No, and here's why: You take a wooden driver compared to a 460 cc's titanium, and to me that's a lot bigger difference than a 35?inch putter to a 45?inch putter. And also last year, the strokes game putting, nobody in the top 20 used a belly putter or a long putter. If anybody says it's an advantage, I think you've got to look at the stats and the facts.
To me, to change something that big and to cost manufacturers millions of dollars, you've got to have some pretty good facts. I think just because some of us are winning majors or winning tournaments with the belly putter, I don't think that's a good reason to say, hey, we're going to take them away. So that's my real take.
Q. Can you just repeat your daughter's name for us, and when was she born, and what's it been like trying to focus on golf?
WEBB SIMPSON: Her name is Willow Grace Simpson, and we're going to call her Willow. She was born on the 28th of July, 7 pounds, 7 ounces. I was pretty emotional with my son being born, and I thought the second wouldn't be that emotional, and I was crying like a baby. So it's been great. We've had a lot of fun, and like everyone tells us, the second, you don't worry and stress as much. My wife, she's doing well, not getting a lot of sleep.
But more than anything it just reminds you that golf is golf, it's not my life. I think more than anything I'm showing up, I'm refreshed and not putting any pressure on myself just because of having a second child.
Q. How do you think expectations of you have changed, and what are your expectations of yourself? How have they changed in the last couple months?
WEBB SIMPSON: I haven't put any extra pressure on myself being a U.S. Open champion. I think it's allowed me to work harder because you see certain guys do something big, whether it's win or get to a certain spot in the World Rankings and they don't play as well. So I haven't put more pressure on myself, but I have tried to push myself in working harder.
In terms of the public, I think there's a lot more expectation, but I think that just comes along with it, and I think at Travelers and Greenbrier I did feel a little bit more pressure being the U.S. Open champion, but I just try to tell myself, trying to live up to what somebody thinks of you or creates you to be is not going to help. So my caddie has helped a lot, my wife has helped a lot, just to tell me to keep doing the same things, put the time in the gym and keep working on your golf. Whatever you do in golf ?? whatever you put in, you'll get out of it, so that's kind of what I'm trying to tell myself.
Q. Do you have a desire to switch to the short putter regardless of what the rules change may be, or is this just preemptive in case they do change it down the road?
WEBB SIMPSON: It's one of those things for me, I don't really care either way. The one area I'm a lot better with the belly putter is my speed. Even the last few weeks at home taking the short putter out on the course, my speed just both ways, hitting it too hard and too soft, and to make putts you've got to have great speed. So that's my only worry is I've really got to work on my speed.
But it's one of those situations, I think all players through the years learn how to adapt to certain situations, whether it's conditions of the weather or who you're playing with, and so I'd just lump them in that category. I'll just have to learn, relearn, to use a short putter.
Q. If they don't change the rule will you switch to a short putter?
WEBB SIMPSON: Not really, unless I start putting bad with the belly putter, but other than that, I probably wouldn't.
Q. Just going back to your decision to be with your family during a huge moment for your family, some would think you're at the top of your game, you just won the U.S. Open, you'd want to keep it going. You mentioned the balance and how family is more important, but just going more into that, that it really wasn't that hard of a decision for you to say, you know what, even though I won the U.S. Open, the British Open comes way far down?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, and you know, if I'm fortunate and get to play golf a long time, I think I'll have 20 or so more times to play in the Open Championship. We're only going to have two or three kids, maybe four at the most. I knew way before the decision was made that it was something that I think I would regret for a long time, and it really wasn't much of a decision. It was more we wanted to talk to our doctor to see if there's a 1 percent chance that the baby would come that early, I might go play. I think it would have been different if it was the John Deere or somewhere on the East Coast, it would have been a lot different. But trying to get home from Manchester airport to Charlotte would have taken some time.
Q. Do you think you have a handle on this course yet, and what do you think about these greens, these paspalum greens?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think the greens are some of the purest greens we putt on all year. They're softer and a little slower right now just because of the rain, but they're going to be great. They're going to hold up well.
And like I was saying earlier, Pete Dye course, you kind of learn something every time, and we went out on the back nine this morning and played nine holes, and we learned a little something on every hole.
I think having the mindset of continuing to kind of keep your eyes open even during the tournament and maybe writing something down in your yardage book and learning as you go because most of the guys have never played here, so we're kind of all in the same boat.
Q. Just a quick follow, these days as a pro golfer do you have to be kind of an agronomist, too, when you see the different surfaces, the different grasses? Do you have to know exactly what you have to do depending on what grass you're playing?
WEBB SIMPSON: A little bit. You've got to know if grain plays a big part, what direction the grain is going. Somebody, one local caddie told me yesterday that most of the balls have a pull towards the ocean, and you hit certain putts and you see if that's true. You just kind of ?? you want to find out from the local guys, and you want to see if other pros are talking about it.
But at the same time you can look too hard into it and give the ocean too much credit or the grain too much credit, so it's all a balance of trying to figure out the kind of in between.
KELLY ELBIN: What's different about playing on paspalum in general than the grasses you typically would play on?
WEBB SIMPSON: From what I gather, it's a real healthy, full grass, and so you're going to have a lot of consistency. You're not going to have many putts that fool you, I don't think. They're going to hold up well if it got hot or with a lot of play. So I think all around they're great greens. You know, the ball really sticks to the ground as the ball rolls.
You'll see some made putts this week, I think.
Q. Kind of growing up in the area, did you ever play the Ocean Course? Do you have any more experience with the Ocean Course, or is this the first time coming out practicing and going?
WEBB SIMPSON: I played when I was 12, and that was the only time. And I really don't remember it hardly at all. I came down two weeks ago for the day and played. That was really the first time I feel like I saw it. Yeah, so I've only played now 45 holes, but given our circumstances at home, that's about all I could do.
KELLY ELBIN: 2012 U.S. Open Champion Webb Simpson, thank you very much.
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