April 26, 2001
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
NELSON LUIS: We'd like to welcome Scott Simpson into the interview room. Obviously a great afternoon round for you, currently the leader. Why don't you talk to us about your feelings on today.
SCOTT SIMPSON: Well, I played well. I played pretty good, steady, drove the ball pretty good overall. I'd say my chipping and putting was really the key to my round. Like everyone I missed some greens but I up-and-downed it every time. I putted really well. Putted really well. Made a lot of good putts. That was probably the key to my round and it is a real big thrill to be back up here and to be in the media room again. It has been a long time. (Laughs).
Q. Anything surprise you about today's round?
SCOTT SIMPSON: That I am leading, that is a big surprise (laughs) but other than that, I have been playing better and I have been working real hard and been playing better, so you know, I felt like this was possible, to shoot a real good round. I don't know what the week will hold, but I have been working hard and I have been playing better, so something like this is possible.
Q. What about the ankle, the screws are still in there?
SCOTT SIMPSON: Oh, yeah, I have got a plate and 7 screws in there. My right ankle.
Q. Take us through the accident.
SCOTT SIMPSON: The accident wasn't that big of a deal. I was following my daughter down the ski slopes and being a beginner skier I wasn't very good. First time I had been out in my second year of skiing in December 1999, and so I just -- just a normal fall. I thought I had sprained my ankle; turned out it was broken, and it was a borderline break on whether to do surgery or not so we did not do surgery, but the bone never healed up. I think Grant Hill, the same thing happened, actually. So the bone didn't heal, so then six months later I had to have surgery and then it was two and a half months on crutches. It turned into a big deal. But I didn't think it was at the time. I thought it would be six weeks and I'd be back in March playing golf but I ended up missing the whole year. Even the start of this year was limping a little bit but it's gotten better and better.
Q. Where did it happen?
SCOTT SIMPSON: Bryon Head (ph), Utah.
Q. Did you throw the skis away?
SCOTT SIMPSON: Yes. Unfortunately I am retired. That was so much fun too. So now I take the kids and I just hang around.
Q. Does it hurt after four rounds? Are you at all --
SCOTT SIMPSON: No, it's gotten to a point where it doesn't bother me at all. Maybe a plane ride or something -- I could feel it once in a while, but playing a round, it might swell a little bit but it's gotten better and better even as this year has gone on.
Q. You are exempt for 29 tournaments. What is this in a sequence now, is this No. 5 or 8?
SCOTT SIMPSON: No, I have played -- this is nine or ten this year. I have played a lot.
NELSON LUIS: You have got 19 after this week.
SCOTT SIMPSON: This was 10, I guess. I don't know. I am not too worried about it. I am not worried about exceeding 29 tournaments this year. That isn't going to happen.
Q. When you were going through all that stuff did you ever think of: "I am going to bag it?"
SCOTT SIMPSON: Oh, yeah. I used to think about that when I was playing sometimes. All it takes is a few bad weeks and most of us out here think about how lousy it is to be travelling and when you are missing cuts it gets really old sometimes. That is why in some ways it was really great to have a year off. Obviously you don't want to be on crutches and limping around but it was a really good time; spent the last year with my daughter at home and my son was 13, so I went to a lot of baseball games and it was really good to be able to be home for a year. It really didn't fire me up to want to practice and play and give it a shot to see if I can come back.
Q. How much golf did you play last year?
SCOTT SIMPSON: None.
Q. Were you able to swing it very much?
SCOTT SIMPSON: I could play a little bit before I had surgery. I would have to kind of do the Gary-Player-walk-through with my right ankle because it just won't support me through impact. But-- and then once in -- starting in about June I didn't play for about five months or something. I started playing again, started hitting balls towards the end of November, I think.
SCOTT SIMPSON: It helped my attitude probably more than anything. Helped my attitude. I was just fired up to work again and I had gotten to the point before that where I was really getting tired of it. Tired of the travel and playing and working. I was fortunate to have a year off.
Q. You had six birdies and no bogeys. Any comments about it?
NELSON LUIS: Let's go through the card.
SCOTT SIMPSON: No. 1 driver, 8-iron I think about twelve feet made that for birdie. Then hit driver 3-wood on the green on 2 and 2-putted from about 40 feet. Then birdied 10. 10 was a driver, 8-iron about 15 feet and then 11 was 3-wood in the left rough and an iron about twelve feet, made that for birdie. Then 5-iron on 12 probably about 15 feet. Made that for birdie. Then I birdied 16. Hit driver, 8-iron about twelve feet. Other than that I had a few good saves.
Q. Seems they have been hitting a lot of greens in regulation I think from the stats. Look like putting has been your problem this year?
SCOTT SIMPSON: No, actually my stats in putting aren't that bad. My greens in regulation are a lot worse than I feel like they should be. But it is kind of like -- you know sometimes --I have been hitting the ball pretty well but when -- I don't hit it that long, so I am going to always miss some greens but as long as I miss them right around the edges, you know, I consider that okay. I have been hitting the ball pretty well. I definitely putted much better today than I have been lately. My putting has been kind of off and on, so....
Q. Do you feel like you limp or not?
SCOTT SIMPSON: I feel like I don't limp.
Q. People tell you do?
SCOTT SIMPSON: People tell me I do.
Q. Just your natural walk?
SCOTT SIMPSON: I guess. I hope -- my doctor actually says it is two years before you are completely recovered after surgery, so (laughs)... So, I don't know.
Q. On your driver do you think you favor your right ankle?
SCOTT SIMPSON: No. Not at all. It doesn't bother me hitting through the ball at all. It might have a little bit at the beginning of the year, first few tournaments, but it's gotten better and better I think with practicing playing. I have been trying to work out a lot. I packed the pounds on pretty good last year, so, they are slowly coming off.
Q. How much more do you weigh now than you did before the accident?
SCOTT SIMPSON: Than before the accident?
SCOTT SIMPSON: Actually I have been packing them on before the accident. (Laughter). It is probably not that much different. It's probably -- I am probably 10 pounds more than before the accident.
Q. What did you miss the most when you were playing?
SCOTT SIMPSON: I didn't miss much at all really, tell you the truth. After 21 years, you know, it is like, geez, give me a break. And it was great. But then once -- you know I really didn't miss it at all. But then once I decided that: Well, let's give it a good shot this year and let's just see what happens, and I started practicing and playing a lot more and I was excited to play even though, you know, I can't say I really missed it. But the fun part is just you know, like today, trying to play under pressure and get in contention. It is fun to play with such great players. I got to play with Hal Sutton last week, and I am playing with a lot of good -- it is just fun to play with all of these guys that are so good to see if you can do it.
Q. You won here 14 years ago. Seems like it has been that long?
SCOTT SIMPSON: Yeah. (Laughs). It does. It seems like a long time ago.
Q. What do you remember from back then, anything stick out in your mind today?
SCOTT SIMPSON: I remember how cold it was. It was freezing. We all had -- I remember Payne Stewart with -- I mean it was so cold he wasn't even wearing knickers. He had -- we all wore rain pants and the things, you know, those beanies pulled down over. We had to stop because of the snow when we were warming up for the last round. Then other than that, I remember just playing real steady and having the lead and kind of limping in and then well I made a good birdie on 16, though.
Q. Limping in?
SCOTT SIMPSON: Yeah, limping in. I'd like to limp in again.
Q. Would you be surprised if you are sitting here on Sunday or not?
SCOTT SIMPSON: Yeah, I'd be surprised.
Q. How come?
SCOTT SIMPSON: Well, just because I haven't done anything this year really. Even though I have started playing a lot better and making -- I think I made 4 out of 5 cuts and the other one I missed by a shot so I have been playing better, but it would be a happy surprise. I mean, I won't be shocked but I'd be surprised. Just because it is the year off and coming back and figure it takes some time.
Q. How would you treat tomorrow's second round?
SCOTT SIMPSON: Oh, you know, this is a big thrill to be you know, leading, assuming I am still leading, if someone doesn't make a bunch of birdies. Tomorrow, there is so many guys that can still win, so many guys under par, and that I am just going to have to go out tomorrow and just play the same way I tried to play today. Just try to make good swings, try to make good putts and see what happens.
Q. How long has it been since you were in contention
SCOTT SIMPSON: I don't know. I can't -- I wasn't playing very good my last couple of years -- well, probably let's see, 1998 I won San Diego. 1999 I played pretty good in San Diego and after that I don't think I played good anywhere, so, 1999 -- at least a couple of years.
Q. People will -- the general fan will find it hard to believe that you are getting tired of being out here. How would you try to explain that to the public?
SCOTT SIMPSON: When you are playing good you don't get tired of being out here. It is just -- I had a couple of years where I wasn't playing well, and two, when you get in your 40s like me, I guess you get tired of missing all the baseball games when your son is playing, you get tired of missing your daughter going out on dates, and you know, you get tired of missing things like that. When you are out here playing, you start thinking, geez, you know, I would sure like to be home, you know, things that are going on at home, but you get to the point sometimes where you feel like you have to go play and when you are playing bad and you feel like you have to play and -- you just -- I guess the travel more than anything, you just wants to be home. And when your kids are growing up. Obviously when you are playing well, it is exciting and you are making a lot of money and everyone is telling you how great you are, then it is easy to stay out here. But when you are struggling you got things at home, you know, it can get hard. Believe me, nobody should feel sorry for me or anyone out here, but you do feel like you want to be home.
Q. How will you prepare for tomorrow? Will you go out and practice now?
SCOTT SIMPSON: Oh, yeah. I will go practice and -- yeah, just keep working on the same things I have been working on, trying to make good solid swings and work on chipping and putting. Yeah, same old stuff whether I would have shot 73, yeah. Nothing different.
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