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SHRINERS HOSPITALS FOR CHILDREN OPEN


October 15, 2014


Webb Simpson


LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

MARK STEVENS:  We'd like to welcome our defending champion of the Shriners Hospital For Children Open, Webb Simpson.  Last year you had a runaway victory here at the Shriners.  Talk about your thoughts coming into this year.  You've had a couple weeks off.  Kind of talk about what you've been up to and then we'll have a few questions.
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yeah, it's great to be back.  I love coming here.  It's always great weather, as we're going to see again this week, I believe.  But I think I love this golf course because it reminds me of the course I grew up playing.  You have a lot of options off the tee, and greens are undulating and fast.  So I'm just comfortable here, comfortable playing this kind of golf.  But I feel good.  I've had two weeks off after the Ryder Cup and rested up.  Last week I practiced up, and it feels nice to get back at it.

Q.  Last year in your victory you won by six shots.  That's a lot of shots to win by at this particular tournament where a lot of guys are knocking flags down all week long.  How do you explain that?
WEBB SIMPSON:  You know, it was one of those weeks where everything went right.  I think I was first in greens, third in strokes gained putting, and when you put those two together, you're going to have a good week.
I think I only had a one‑shot lead with six to go but made a few birdies.¬† It was one of those weeks, as well, where every day I kind of maxed out what I got out of the round.¬† You know, normally to win a tournament you need two or three of those, but I kind of did it every day.
The main thing is I made a lot of putts, and you've got to do that this week.¬† There's three par‑5s, all reachable, and a reachable par‑4.¬† So you really have to take advantage of the short holes and make putts.

Q.¬† It was kind of an up‑and‑down last two months of the season, maybe either in contention or missed a few cuts.¬† With a few weeks off to kind of look at it, what did you see?¬† Was there something you saw and something you addressed during those weeks?¬† What do you try and accomplish the next few weeks?
WEBB SIMPSON:¬† You know, I think a lot of it was fatigue at the end of the year for me.¬† I think I played too much golf last year.¬† I was really trying to make the Ryder Cup team, so I played an event that‑‑ not normally wouldn't play, but this past year I was not going to play if I made the Ryder Cup team on points.
But inconsistency sometimes can be something very specific that you can figure out and work on, and other times it can be just the way the game goes.¬† As I look back, that's kind of‑‑ I got into a swing funk kind of March and April.¬† It took me a while to figure it out, and I finally did and started hitting it better.¬† I putted really well the first half of the season, struggled a little bit towards the end, so I kind of flip‑flopped those two parts of my game.¬† But what I needed was to get away from the game.¬† I needed a break.¬† I needed to decompress, and I feel like I always play well after a break.¬† If you look at my track record, good start in Maui seems like most times, and Memphis I had three weeks off before, finished third.
I always seem to be more hungry and prepared when I have some time off.  So I think just time off in general helps me.

Q.  I was talking to Jimmy Walker this morning, and he said that his Ryder Cup experience was nothing but positive, even though you didn't achieve the ultimate goal of winning.  How was your experience personally, because back here in the States there was so much criticism of the team and specifically of Tom Watson with the way he handled things.
WEBB SIMPSON:¬† It was kind of‑‑ I had two experiences.¬† The golf side was a terrible experience because I only got to play two matches.¬† I showed up in Scotland really ready to play and excited to play, and when you sit three matches in a row, it's tough.¬† So the golf part stunk for me.¬† I'm not going to lie.¬† I mean, if I said golf was great, you could call me a liar, and we didn't win.¬† If I sit three matches and we win, I'll have a different answer.
But you know, I had my wife there.  We don't get many chances to be together without kids, so we had a great week.  I had a great week with the teammates and the wives and the captains and so forth.  Apart from golf, it was a great week.  They're always memorable weeks.  So kind of a bittersweet taste in my mouth Sunday night, especially having tasted success on the Presidents Cup teams and knowing how good it feels to win team events, and two Ryder Cup teams we've lost that I've been on.
All in all, I think a lot of people make it out to be so important, but at the end of the day, it's a competition, it's the Ryder Cup, it's supposed to be fun.  So I don't let it linger as long as some people may.

Q.¬† Just curious, three weeks later it's kind of taken on a life of its own.¬† There's stories every day.¬† Are you surprised it's lingered this much and that there's now a task force and all this stuff?¬† Is it a little‑‑
WEBB SIMPSON:  A little bit, yeah.  I think when you get in a situation like what we've seen at the Ryder Cup, I think there's so many different people and moving parts who have opinions of what it should be, you've got fans, you've got past captains, you've got media, players.  You've got so many moving parts that all feel that it should be done a certain way.  So I think the PGA's move to consult the players is really smart.  I feel like players should be consulted more on certain things, like the rules, for example.  Or golf course design.  If we have a tournament we play every year and the course gets remodeled I feel like they should talk to a couple players who have been at that tournament for 20 years and say, before we make a mistake what do you think about this.  I think getting players involved in the process is a good thing.  I really do.
I think my caddie read them to me, Furyk and Stricker and Tiger and Rickie, that's a good move, I think.¬† I think it's a good thing that people are still talking about it in the sense that this is a problem that we're losing as much as we are, so it's a good thing that‑‑ I think it shows we care.¬† We want to fix it, make it better, and compete against the European team.

Q.  How is the pressure maybe different; you had a U.S. Open, tight layout, a bad tee shot ruins your hole, versus like here it's forgiving, you have short irons, but you have to make a bunch of birdies or else you're getting lapped.
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yeah, the pressure is different.  You tee it up and you know the golf course isn't going to be as demanding as a U.S. Open style course.  You know you have a little more room in the rough, left and right on every hole.  It doesn't make it easier, it's just a little less stressful, I guess.  You know, one tough thing about playing here and maybe the Humana Challenge is that there's so many holes that are birdieable is there's that pressure of I have to make birdie.  So it's a different kind of pressure, but it's fun.  This is the kind of golf I grew up playing, making a lot of birdies.  I think too many of our courses that we play now are getting too difficult.
I think it's fun for fans, fun for people watching on TV to see us making birdies, making putts, having to play a few under coming in to win the golf tournament.

Q.  Two Ryder Cup questions:  You said that you think the players should be brought in more for their input.  One question is do you have any ideas?  And the second question is has the Ryder Cup just gotten too big?
WEBB SIMPSON:¬† My idea is just an idea I heard Paul Azinger talking about, was just trying to make the team environment and the captain, whoever he may be, just make it all more consistent to where you show up at one Ryder Cup and it's going to be done a completely different way than the previous one or the next one, and I think that makes sense for everybody.¬† I mean, we want‑‑ all golfers want to feel normal.
Paul and I this week are going to act no different to each other than we would at another tournament.  We want to make it as normal as possible, and I think that would be good for the Ryder Cup, to know what to expect, to know more about kind of who's going to play, when, and all that, and I think that would be good.  I think we all would want that.
But again, I don't think it's the captain's fault.  I just think there's no real opportunities for the players to collectively get together and say this is what we think would be best for us.  So it sounds like PGA is creating that right now, which is great.
And the Ryder Cup, the second question is tough to answer because it's the way I kind of approach the game.  I put as much effort as I can into preparing for a tournament and I work as hard as I can, but when the tournament is over Sunday, I kind of quit thinking about it.  And that's the way I feel Ryder Cup is.  It's so important, it's so fun, you want to get up for it, but it is at the end of the day just a competition.  Maybe some people take it further than that and it's life and death, but it is what it is.

Q.  Just getting back to this week, do you get a sense your game is in good enough shape to defend the title because the field seems to be a little bit stronger than last year's and we've got a lot of guys who have a game similar to you that can really putt well and can put up big numbers.
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yeah, I definitely think the game is ready.  I'm excited.  You know, fundamentally, my game is as good as it's been, and so it's just a matter of hopefully I won't be rusty tomorrow as I tee it up, but again, getting into my game plan, last year I didn't tee it up Thursday thinking I had to shoot 20 something under to win, one hole at a time.  Last year's win will help me.  There's things I learned last year about the golf course and staying patient that will help this year.
So I do feel my game is good enough to win, and I'm glad the field is better.  I think this field will continue to get better over the years.

Q.¬† You guys were out there yesterday doing the drill with Paul holding the club against the head.¬† Is that just a fault that you kind of‑‑ during the length of a season can fall back into and just need to continually address.
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yeah, it's just a fundamental that we always try to keep sharp.  My tendency is to go off the ball with my head kind of too far, so it's just a reminder more than anything.

Q.  How each season do you guys go kind of about the art of improving and trying to get better, deciding what to maybe change or tweak without messing around too much?
WEBB SIMPSON:¬† Yeah, it's hard.¬† I mean, you really try to‑‑ you have to identify what your goal is and working on your golf swing, where you want to get to and the best way to get there.¬† And the hardest thing is to‑‑ what's easy to do is let a bad habit develop and not really see it until it's cost you, and that's what happened to us at the Florida Swing.¬† I had been working on something, and the lightbulb kind of went off that something was going on in my backswing that was a result of working on something else that we were working on the West Coast Swing.¬† It's a fine balance.¬† You start swinging it a certain way, you want to maintain that as long as possible, but you're going to get in bad habits, we're traveling, we're playing in different environments and different courses, so your body is going to adapt to kind of where you're playing.¬† It's hard to keep it the same all year, but that's obviously the goal.

Q.  You've had the same instructor since you were a kid, right?
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yep.

Q.  So it's just kind of baby steps, nothing major?
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yep, nothing major.

Q.¬† Wasn't there one little tweak right before 2011 that you guys made that led to your first‑‑
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yeah, that was where I started working on keeping my head still in the backswing and not moving off the ball, and that was I think what turned me into a good ball striker where I was never before.
MARK STEVENS:  Thanks for your time, Webb.  Good luck this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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