Raleigh’s Simpson seeks to turn season around at Pinehurst

Raleigh's Simpson seeks to turn season around at Pinehurst (Image 1)
Raleigh's Simpson seeks to turn season around at Pinehurst (Image 1)

Webb Simpson, a Raleigh native who won the 2012 U.S. Open champion, said he’s feeling the love at Pinehurst No. 2 this week.

“It feels like a home game,” Simpson said in a news conference Wednesday.

“It’s always a good feeling when the home crowd is cheering for you.”

Simpson played Pinehurst many times growing up only a little more than an hour away.

“As soon as I got my license,” Simpson said, “I’d come down here every weekend and play. My family is down here full-time, pretty much.”

Simpson may need all the help he can get after struggling in the past few months.

Simpson had a fast start to the 2014 PGA Tour season, winning Shriners Hospitals for Children Open back in October. In his first eight events of the season, Simpson finished in the top 10 six times, ranking as high as first in FedEx Cup points.

The season started to go downhill in March. Simpson missed his first cut of the season at the Valspar Championship. He went on to miss cuts at two of his next four events, including the Masters and the Players Championship.

Simpson acknowledged his struggles, and said he knows he has to get better.

“The last two months, I’ve played terrible,” Simpson said. “But I’ve kept working on it. Trying to improve.”

And improve he did. After taking a few weeks off for the birth of his third child, Wyndham Rose, Simpson finished tied for third at the FedEx St. Jude Classic on June 8. It was his best finish since January 6 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Simpson said he remembers the advice that his coach at Wake Forest University, Jerry Haas, gave him.

“The only thing that matters in this game is that you keep getting better,” Simpson said Haas told him.

Simpson said that resting is prior to the tournament is crucial this week, especially with the weather.

“The kid inside of me wants to be out here all day practicing,” Simpson said, “but it’s 90 degrees.”

Reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson told ESPN earlier this week that the greens were “unfriendly”and that it would be a “tough test of golf.” Simpson said similar things on Wednesday.

“This course,” Simpson said, “is as hard as anything I’ve played at the U.S. Open.”

Simpson gets the chance to compete against a longtime rival and friend in Brendan Todd.

The two competed against each other in high school – Simpson went to Broughton and Todd went to Green Hope – and their families remain close.

“Our wives are good friends,” Simpson said. “We’ve stayed close since he kicked my tail when I was 13 at Pine Needles. I know he’s happy to be in the field this week, too.”

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