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May 12, 2018

Webb Simpson

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

CHRIS REIMER: I want to welcome our third-round leader here at THE PLAYERS Championship Webb Simpson, an incredible run so far through 54 holes. Just some opening comments on looking forward to tomorrow and your play so far.

WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I feel like today was a good day overall. I wasn't quite as sharp as I'd like to be. Dropped a couple shots.

But overall, I felt like we had a great game plan and we stuck to it. Nice bonus on 11 and nice one on 18 to finish off the round. All in all, with a five-shot lead, I think it was a good, solid day, but I'd like to clean up those mistakes and come out tomorrow with an even sharper round.

Q. Did you know that you had a six-stroke lead before the eagle on 11 today, and can you contrast your putting today relative to yesterday?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I didn't see any leaderboards today, so I didn't know what guys were doing. Turning at 2-under was a good front side. 2, I know that you can't miss it right. And 8, I didn't like that I missed it left of that pin. But overall still a good, solid front nine. The wind was blowing a little harder today, I thought. I putted nice today. On 14 that's an uphill putt, and that was kind of the first time I felt like they really got faster.

And 15, I had, whatever it was, eight feet, ran that three and a half feet by. And 16 it was so hard. So it's hard to make adjustments mid-round, but even 18 was an uphill putt, and it didn't play like an uphill putt.

So I think we'll see more of that tomorrow as the winds come in. It's going to be firm and fast, and you just -- I've got to do a little better job of adjusting.

Q. Those misses you mentioned, were those a product of just mistakes in execution, or were you budging a little bit on that conservatively aggressive approach you described yesterday?
WEBB SIMPSON: You know, I would say 14 was -- 14 and 15 were tough reads. 16 was an easy read. 14, I didn't see it breaking left, but Paul said the book had it --

Q. I meant the iron shots.
WEBB SIMPSON: Oh, the iron shots?

Q. You know how you said you were trying to play to those spots aggressively? You mentioned some misses there.
WEBB SIMPSON: Oh, yeah. I mean, 2 was a 3-wood, and 8 was a 5-wood, which is a little harder to control than a mid-iron. But I think I just didn't give the wind quite enough credit on those holes because I missed it on the side that the wind was blowing, and you so easily can leave yourself in a position that's it's so tough to get it up-and-down. So I just didn't do that the first two days at all, and I did it a couple times today on the front. I've just got to be a little smarter, I think.

Q. Would you have thought that anybody could get to this sort of state after three rounds a week ago?
WEBB SIMPSON: I mean, I didn't think about it, but if you were to ask me, could somebody get to 19-under, I would have said that would be really tough, and the conditions have to be just right. And I think, you know, the first round, the greens were soft and gettable. Yesterday was a little tougher, but I had one of those magical rounds.

I mean, 12-under I guess is in second, I would have taken that and run with it through three days. I feel like I'm playing good, solid golf, but it's just so far I've holed out a few times from off the green and made some long putts, and to get to that score, I think you've got to do that.

Q. Where would you be without the Tim Clark putting lesson?
WEBB SIMPSON: I don't know. I don't know. You know, it's been a year and a few days, so I'm really thankful that he was here that day, and you know, thought to himself he should say something. I wasn't going in a good direction. It was a couple years of struggle up and down, but you know, I'm very thankful that he gave me that lesson. I'm thankful that I've put together a year of pretty solid putting, and it's really helped my golf kind of get me to the player that I want to be, to be honest. I hit it pretty solid through those years, and that was the missing link.

It was a long couple years but a good couple years. It really stretched me as a player and stretched me -- really, I got to look inside and see what I had in me. Knowing my dad was sick, I knew he would -- he always told me growing up to never give up, never be a quitter, so that was off the table. I was never going to be done with golf. But it certainly was a struggle.

Every day that I putt well, I'm just thankful that I had another day.

Q. You referenced your dad; how much do you want to win for your mom?
WEBB SIMPSON: Quite a bit. You know, being Mother's Day and seeing what she's gone through -- you know, I was with her last week in Charlotte, so this would be an amazing Mother's Day present for her. But 18 holes. I've got a lot of work to do.

Q. You tied Greg Norman's 54-hole scoring record today. Are you allowing yourself to appreciate any of that, or does it not matter until you win?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think you're right. I don't think it matters until I win. All those things that have happened, I'd love to know them if I win tomorrow. But I'm trying not to dwell there. I'm trying to just look forward, you know, do what I always do on a Saturday night of a golf tournament and get ready tomorrow morning, and that's kind of where I'm at.

Q. Such a unique position having this big of a lead. Have you thought about how you don't allow yourself to maybe play defensive tomorrow?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I mean, I think with the golf course getting -- you know, I'm playing late. It's going to be firm and fast. But I mean, a few of the hardest pins they've used already, and I saw the pins for tomorrow. I don't think it'll be set up that much harder.

But Sunday you've got to give the course a little more respect, and I wanted to do that today. I wanted to hit away from the pins unless I had a sand wedge in my hand, and I did that well. So I've got to come out tomorrow with that same mindset that I have a few par-5s, I have a few short par-4s, and there's going to be birdie chances, so I can't force anything, even if I'm even through 12 holes. I've just got to keep going and take my chances when I can.

Q. You mentioned your dad's illness a little earlier, when he was sick, and if I remember correctly, I think you took some time off to be with him. Can you tell me a little bit what that meant to you?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I mean, it was -- he started to fall. He had dementia, and he started -- I guess the medicine made him start collapsing, and so finally after the third collapse, they thought it was best for him to go to hospice. I was at Sea Island, I was at RSM, and when he went into hospice, I realized, man, this is really bad because we thought we had a few more years with him. So I played the first two days, talked to my mom. Talked to my mom Tuesday of RSM, she told me, play, he would want you to play, and then Friday, she told me it was time to come home.

So when she told me that, I knew it was serious, and so I got -- we got about 10 days maybe once I got home Friday, before he passed, and it was a special time. You know, I got to see all of his friends come to the hospice room and tell him and tell us what he meant to their life, and to hear that, as a son, my dad was already my hero, and he became that much bigger in my mind.

It was a sweet time.

Q. Do you remember any of those stories?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I remember all of them. Every one of them.

Q. Tell one.
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, so my dad's big thing was Bible Study Fellowship once a week, men's Bible study, meant so much to him, so he would try to get people to come. He'd invite people, hey, come hear this message from Bible Study Fellowship. So he had this one lady who worked for him, and he told her, hey, there's a women's fellowship, you should go. She told me, no, I don't want anything to do with that, I'm not going. Well, after a while she couldn't sell this one hour, she's a residential realtor, so she's comes in his office and she's so frustrated because she can't sell this house. So he kind of looks at her with a smirk and says, if I sell this house, I'll give you the commission, but you've got to go to Bible study. So he sold it I think within a week, and she's sitting there in this video, she's saying that she's been going ever since.

So he just had a sweet way about him with people. Everybody seemed to love him. So just stories like that that I never knew. I didn't know that story. But he meant a lot to a lot of people.

Q. You've been playing golf probably your whole life. Has it hit you that this is the best -- is this the best you've ever played golf?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think so. You know, I've been -- I've had aspects of my game be really solid this year, but I haven't had a tournament yet where everything was really clicking. You know, I finished fifth at Hilton Head. I seemed to have a few-hole stretches where I wasn't hitting it good or not making putts, and that was kind of the case each good finish this year. So this is the first tournament where I feel like everything is really good.

Q. Must be like a dream, right?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I mean, this tournament, I've never played great here. Pauly lives here, so it's fun to play well and compete with arguably the best field in golf.

Q. You had a lot of time before the tee time today. Did you watch any of the coverage beforehand, see any of Tiger's round, and what did you do to pass the time?
WEBB SIMPSON: I went to Starbucks for a couple hours and came back home, did some laundry, and then when I got here, I had lunch, so I saw some of the golf. When I got here, he was on 15 maybe, and they kept showing him, and then they show Jordan's highlights, so I got to see a little bit. Man, they played great.

I think it was good for me to see that, that the wind was up a decent amount, but there were some low scores, so I think it helped me a little bit continue to think about making birdies and making that 15-under a little better.

Q. Did people know who you were?
WEBB SIMPSON: Not at the one I was at, thankfully.

Q. What did you do, just work on your computer?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, and read some, had some breakfast, just eased into it.

Q. I know there's no answers for this stuff sometimes, but why do you think everything is clicking this week? What is it about now?
WEBB SIMPSON: I don't know. You know, I've been a pro since 2008, and I feel like you never know when it's going to -- a week like this will come. But looking back, I've been healthy. I've been playing a lot of golf. I've been working on different aspects of my game maybe more than I normally do. But a big thing, I think, is that I'm comfortable on this golf course. Though I haven't played well, I really like being here. I've played some courses where it just doesn't look good to my eye and I'm uncomfortable, but here, every tee shot I seem to like.

You know, I think that part of the game is a mystery. I think certain guys it's not surprising that they play well a lot, like Jason Day and Rory and Spieth and these guys, but I certainly haven't had a career like theirs. But it doesn't surprise me at the same time because I feel like I've been confident, I've been working hard, and I'm really hungry. I'm hungry to get back in the winner's circle.

Q. Where will your mom be tomorrow, and is she typically -- does she watch a lot of golf, watch you?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, she watches -- she'll be home. I think she's in Raleigh right now. But yeah, she'll be glued. She doesn't miss many shots at all, if any.

Q. If you would walk me through some of your favorite Mother's Day memories and things that you would do with your mom or with your wife on Mother's Day over the years.
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, it seems like the last 10 years or so, I've been here. I've been away from my mom. She came here for one PLAYERS Championship. But you know, my wife, mother of four kids, has been here with me for most of THE PLAYERS. It's a great day. Moms, all the credit they get, they deserve, and they should get more. I think it's a great day tomorrow just to sit back and reflect on what my mom has done for me and what my wife does for our kids.

Q. Do you have to make breakfast or anything tomorrow?
WEBB SIMPSON: Probably let the Starbucks people do it. That's where I'll be.

CHRIS REIMER: Thanks, Webb, good luck tomorrow.

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