Webb Simpson finished 2019 as the 11th best golfer in the world and although he fell just one place short of his ongoing goal of being a top 10 player again, things are heading in the right direction for the North Carolina native.
A product of the Wake Forest University collegiate team, Simpson has followed the outstanding players who attended the Winston-Salem private research university into professional golf and onto the PGA Tour.
He was helped to learn his trade and future career by former student and eight-time PGA Tour event winner Jerry Haas, and says that it was like a ‘dream come true’ to study and understand what it took to tread a similar path.
Turning pro in June 2008, Simpson has won five professional tournaments, including at the notoriously difficult Olympic Club in San Francisco to clinch the US Open title in 2012.
The 34-year-old is a composed player and an individual who rarely sits still. His caddie Paul Tesori recently commented that they work so well together due to the almost polar-opposites of their personas.
He’s also known as someone who is optimistic, resilient and very witty, but can he turn his dedication into results? He thinks so…
RSNG You’re a Major winner, having picked up the US Open in 2012 and also won TPC at Sawgrass in 2018. How would you assess your career so far? WEBB SIMPSON, PRO GOLFER ‘Well, I’ve been a professional now for going on 12 years and it doesn’t feel more than about five or six, because it’s absolutely flown by. I wanted my thirties to be a period in my life where I am grinding out results and rounds and being as good as I can.’
‘With so many players seeming to be peaking early in their careers, the new prime for golfers seems to be in their early twenties and it feels like I am almost constantly playing catch-up.’
‘In that respect, what I really want to do is make sure that I can get a season or two where I’m consistently getting a head-start on the other players.’
RSNG Like a lot of players over the past decade, you’ve been hitting the gym more – how much has that helped you? WS ‘Yeah, really good. But when I was doing my collegiate golf career at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, I didn’t feel that the golf I was playing was that great or certainly as good as it could have been, so I wanted to find ways to help improve that.’
‘I also wasn’t a huge sleeper, so what I decided to do was to join the football guys from the college in the gym. That made me feel much more at home, because I knew that they were people who I could be around who knew their way around the weights.’
When I knew that I was going to be in the team for Medinah, I was so pumped and proud to be selected and I just could wait for it to start
RSNG There is certainly a new culture of golfers who appreciate the need for fitness and a good diet, wouldn’t you say? WS ‘Absolutely. I think part of that is the added level of performance, and the rest of it reflects the exposure golf now has around the world. It’s not just the tournaments that garner interest from fans – it’s a daily drop of golf news, of video, content, and people are passionate about this stuff.’
‘I think because golfers know they are in the spotlight so much, there is an extra desire to be the best they can. It’s 24/ 7 so of course everyone wants to paint themselves in the best light, both in terms of their actions and their image.’
RSNG You have played in the Ryder Cup for Team USA three times, although you’ve not yet been fortunate to wind up on the winning side? WS ‘I’m so glad and feel so fortunate that I was able to be a part of the Ryder Cup, and of course it is the one thing everyone is looking at this year. Medinah 2012 was the highlight for me - when I knew that I was going to be in the team I was so pumped and proud to be selected and I just could wait for it to start.’
‘It passed by so quickly, but I’m glad that I can have that memory to look back on as a positive experience and it’s one thing that I certainly will never forget being a part of, for so many reasons.’
**RSNG It was so loud there that day, wasn’t it? How were you able to harness that energy and use it to your advantage? **WS ‘I would have to say that the incredible noise there that day, made it probably the loudest golfing experience that I have ever been a part of. It was remarkable to see just how much American golf fans really have so much love for the Ryder Cup.’
‘Their love for the sport and the American team really shone through and helped us that day, even though we just fell short.’
Golf is a lot about muscle memory, and you should know what you are going to do before you play the shot
RSNG When you’re playing in a tournament and things might not be going so well, how do you motivate yourself to get back on track? WS ‘Haha! Isn’t that one of life’s mysteries! Well, I would just say that if you’re not happy with the way things are going and they’re quite some way off track on the course, then things in your warm-up, your range practice and your routine may not be right.’
‘I can only speak for myself, but once you get on-course you’ll be trying to do everything that you have been practising for leading up to any event. The idea is that your swing never really changes and that you’re comfortable with it.’
‘The shots that you are playing are the ones you know well and you’re always playing within your limits. As soon as you step outside that and try crazy stuff then, well, it gets crazy, and it’s not a good way to go.’
RSNG How do you try to limit their mistakes on-course? WS ‘If you’re trying to do things that you haven’t tried before or practised a lot before you try and do it on the course, the chances are that they’re not going to work.’
‘I say that because golf is a lot about muscle memory, and you should know what you are going to do before you play the shot.’
‘You may not know exactly where the ball is going to land, but you will be playing for a certain area on the fairway or on the green – somewhere you are comfortable playing your next shot from. You always have to feel like you’re in control of where that ball is going to go.’
‘If you’re doing all that correctly and things aren’t going too well, then you should just stay patient. Hang in there and then take the chances for birdies when they come.’
‘That’s really the best way of turning any round your way when things aren’t going your way. It’s about hanging on in there and making sure you play well against the course, because you can’t affect how any other golfer plays their round. But if they make a mistake and you’re in prime position, you can put pressure on them.’
WHAT NEXT? Read why Kevin Na beats the ball to the hole, in our [exclusive interview]https://www.rsng.com/categories/movement-fuel/articles/kevin-na-on-pga-golf-life-and-beating-the-ball-to-the-hole).
Then, watch Webb Simpson make EIGHT birdies in one round: