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January 16, 2015

Webb Simpson


DOUG MILNE:  Webb Simpson, thanks for joining us for a few minutes.  4‑under 66 in round 2 today puts you at 12‑under, right at the top heading into the weekend.  Just a few thoughts on the round today and then we'll take a few questions.
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yeah, it wasn't quite as clean as yesterday.  I was 1‑over through 5 and playing with Matty and he was playing great, so I was feeling myself wanting to press a little bit.  He was making birdies on the front.  But just tried to stay patient, and I did a good job of that, birdieing 6 and 9.  The wind picked up a little bit, so it wasn't easy out there.  I know there were some good scores, but I didn't think it was that easy.  I managed to make a few putts coming in for birdie and kind of hang around where he was.  He kind of kept making birdies, and my goal was to kind of stay with him if I could.

Q.  What was not easy about it today?
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yesterday we had a few easier pins, I think, so I think the pins were a little tougher.  The wind was changing a lot.  We teed off and 1 was straight into the wind, and by the time we turned, it was kind of cornering all the way across.  We had to make adjustments on tee shots and what clubs we were hitting, and it swirled a little bit coming in the last‑‑ there was a storm coming, and really 15, 16, 17, 18 were pretty windy.

Q.  What was the goal with the putter when you got here?  Was it to use it the rest of the year, see how it went this week, or what?
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yeah, I mean, I went to Japan in November with the short putter, or with this putter, and the hope was that I'll go ahead and transition this off‑season.  The plan was post‑Ryder Cup, Paul and I had a conversation, just strokes gained last year, I think I finished somewhere in the 50s.  I just wasn't putting great.  I felt like I was a better putter than in the 50s, and it was kind of like, if I was top 10 strokes gained with the belly putter it would have been tough to want to change.
But I wanted to make a change.  I'm always trying to get better.  The other element was that I didn't want to force or be forced to switch.  You know, I'm not saying some guys are going to look at it this way, that they feel like they can't do it, but I just didn't want to be in a position where I felt like somebody was telling me how I can play the game.  So I wanted to go ahead and do it.  I had a lot of time off, which I hadn't had a long golf season in a while.  I had 10 out of 11 weeks at home so I felt like I could get a lot of work in, so yeah, the hope in coming here was that I was going to continue to play with it.
In fact, the belly putter is broken.  I broke it.  I broke it so I couldn't bring it to Japan.  True story.

Q.  Give us the details.
WEBB SIMPSON:  Well, I kept thinking in my head, just go one more year with the belly putter, you've had a great last four years, made it to the TOUR Championship four years in a row, don't change anything.  I'm a big believer in not changing something that's not broken.  Yeah, so I felt myself kind of backing out, and I tried to justify it with, you know, all those things.  I'm a great player, this and that, and then I'm like, no, I think I'm doing this because I'm fearful and not wanting to make the switch.
In front of my wife I snapped it over my knee, and I was going to go throw it away, but she said, no, no, we've got to keep it.  We've got to keep it.  You've done a lot of good stuff with that.  So the broken belly putter is in my trophy case at home.  It's on top.

Q.  So you're done?
WEBB SIMPSON:  I can't.  I mean, yeah, I can't use it.  I could use it; it would be a short putter.

Q.  Was it like a three, two, one count down?
WEBB SIMPSON:  I just looked at it like I'm tired of this.  I've been having to deal with you guys for the last three years, and the USGA‑‑

Q.  When did you do that?
WEBB SIMPSON:  It was the day before I left for Japan.

Q.  November?
WEBB SIMPSON:  I can't remember the exact date, but‑‑

Q.  7:32 a.m. or‑‑
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yeah, sounds about right.  It was a funny moment for my wife and I.  But yeah, when you've done something for 10 years, you know, it was‑‑ you kind of have an identity as a belly putter or as a certain type of player, so I think the biggest hurdles for me have been to kind of face it straight on and try to make this big change.  I felt like there would be more kind of focus and pressure if I waited until January of next year in anticipation.
That's kind of‑‑ that's the story.

Q.  Have you ever broken a club before in your life?
WEBB SIMPSON:  No.  I bent a putter when I was 12 years old on the 10th green of my home course.  I bent it, and my dad made my walk in.  It was a good lesson to learn.

Q.  Was it as easy to break as you thought it would be?
WEBB SIMPSON:  Well, it's a thick, heavy shaft, so I gave it about all I had over my knee.  It was a clean, flush break.

Q.  Obviously you had to go to another putter.  It's a different head than the one you have, right?

Q.  So how did you go through that process of trying to find a putter that you would like in the short version?
WEBB SIMPSON:  For the most part I thought I was definitely going to use the mallet head, and the Ping has always had that blue insert, so it's a real soft insert, real soft feel, so I started messing around with a few putters with inserts, Scotty Cameron, White Hot, and it came down to what I felt like looked the best, felt the best, my speed was really good with it, and then I tried probably four or five putters that I was considering.  Just landed on that one, and it's the one I took to Japan, and that's the one I've been putting with the last couple months.

Q.  Curious when you make a swing change you probably have a swing thought in mind.  Curious if you have anything like that with the putter now.
WEBB SIMPSON:  I see things a little differently.  I was a real linear putter with the belly putter, meaning if I saw it a ball out, I would play it a ball out and I would aim it there.  But for whatever reason with the shorter putter, I find myself my natural ability wanting to feel it in there, which is how I used to putt.  I talked to Brandt Snedeker about the way he putts, and it's almost as if there's a track, a train track, invisible train track going to the hole and that's kind of how I see the ball rolling.  I think it fits my personality, just it's a little more natural in feel and I feel like I putt quicker.  I don't second‑guess as much.  That's kind of been the biggest difference.

Q.  What was it that forced you to the longer putter?
WEBB SIMPSON:  Well, growing up, I was always a really good putter, and as I got to be 16, 17, 18, I started to be inconsistent and kind of a streaky putter, and going into my freshman year at Wake I had a couple really good putting tournaments and a couple really poor putting tournaments, and I was kind of tired of this inconsistency, and the story goes that I was in Pinehurst over Thanksgiving to see my family, and they had a belly putter in the pro shop, and I was putting to one of those machines that if you make it'll spit it out to you, and it felt pretty good, and I took it out to the putting green and made a lot of putts with it.  My dad and I went out and played nine holes, and I putted really well and I felt like it was easier.
I actually was kind of scared to take it back to school because I thought I would get made fun of.  Nobody putted with a belly putter then.  It was 2004.  Maybe Paul Azinger, maybe Stewart Cink.  So I took it back, and putting became a lot more consistent for me, and my good days probably weren't quite as good, my bad days weren't quite as bad, but I learned the motion of it and kind of stuck with it.  So that was kind of how I started with it.  To be honest with you, I putted 10 years with it for the most part well, and you know, my irons are 15 years old, so I'm a guy‑‑ if something that I like is working, I don't like to change, so I think that was part of it.

Q.  You didn't really get to the round.  What do you think so early in the season going into the weekend where you're at right now?
WEBB SIMPSON:  I'm excited.  Having so much time off, I put a lot of work in, and I didn't have much expectation coming here to be honest with you.  I wanted to just build on what I've been working on and hoping that we're doing the right stuff, and with the putter, it was just a matter this week of wanting to get comfortable on the greens, wanting to get comfortable long putts, short putts, everything.  That was the goal.  I didn't really care how I played this week.  I wanted to get through the West Coast Swing building on what I've been working on, so to be in the lead is a huge bonus.
Yeah, looking forward to playing with him again and seeing what we can do on the weekend.

Q.  I don't think you said your schedule, but outside of this what do you have planned for the West Coast?
WEBB SIMPSON:  I'm playing next week, and after that I'm not sure.  I'm planning on taking a few weeks on, but I don't know when, if I'm going to play Pebble or LA or Honda.  I'm not sure.

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