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September 26, 2018

Webb Simpson

Guyancourt, France

NEIL AHERN: Webb, thank you for joining us. How nice is it to be back in the team room with Team USA?

WEBB SIMPSON: It's very nice. I felt this way at THE TOUR Championship last year, having missed a couple years, just realising it's a special place to be. You know, even more so here. I missed The Ryder Cup in 2016, and a couple other Presidents Cup events. It's so nice to be back. I love being around the guys, and what a great venue we have.

Even the last couple days of practise rounds and having dinner with the guys, I realise how much more I missed it. I'm not taking it for granted that I'm on this team, and excited to represent USA.

NEIL AHERN: You're coming into this week on some very good form. Can you tell me how your game is and how maybe it suits that golf course out there.

WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I've been playing well. Finished off the year nicely the last couple of events. You know, golf's such an individual game, so you come to a new golf course like this, you have to learn the course, me and my caddie, Paul. I'm with my partner this week and there's some strategy and talks between us.

So there's just a little more to it the last couple days.

Yeah, the golf course is good. It's very difficult, and it's going to be a good test for us.

Q. You know better than most how challenging hitting the opening tee shot of a Ryder Cup is. Can you tell us, first of all, your memories of that day at Gleneagles, and if you were given the opportunity again, would you relish a chance to hit the first one again?
WEBB SIMPSON: Are you referring to the pop-up?

Q. Yes.
WEBB SIMPSON: Okay. So the backstory, why it's even funnier to me, it was funny to everybody, but that was a shot I had in my bag all year. It was like the fifth time I had done it. I was losing my concentration a little bit and I teed it up a little too high, and I had done it a few other times that year, usually it goes straight down, that one went straight and hit the fairway.

But yeah, we're more nervous here than any other tournament, and it's not the fans. It's a good thing. You want to play well for your teammates, for your captain, for the assistant captains and your partner, and so it's a good kind of pressure.

But you know, everybody that made both teams can deal with pressure. But yeah, the first tee, that environment is fun, and a little more -- probably a little more nervous there than the second hole or third hole, and that's why you might see me teeing off on the evens.

Q. Were the crowds kind to you? What was the short walk like?
WEBB SIMPSON: The funniest/most embarrassing part of it was the camera crews and probably a lot of you guys went ahead to where we normally drive it, so the camera crew and everybody is coming back. I can still reach the green, which is nice, but I will say Justin Rose might not admit it, but he had a 3-wood out, and I look over and he switched to driver because the driver's so much bigger. So maybe my shot affected him, I don't know.

Q. Did you watch in 2016?
WEBB SIMPSON: I did. I don't know if I missed a shot. I remember being at home with my wife. The only time I might have missed a shot, maybe one of my kids got in the way of the TV, but we watched everything.

And I felt nervous watching the golf on TV for the first time ever. I wanted it so bad for the U.S., and yeah, I loved it. The Patrick Reed/Rory match is one of those moments I'll never forget as a follower of sports because what we were witnessing -- you guys watch enough golf. That never happens -- not never, it rarely ever happens. I think of Tiger/Ernie in South Africa in their playoff where you have magic moment after magic moment. I called my caddie, Paul, and I said, "I know you're watching this."

It's hard to explain how good it was. Yeah, I watched it.

Q. Did your adrenaline get rising as you watched it, along with theirs?
WEBB SIMPSON: When Rory made his putt on 8 and Patrick made his putt, I didn't even think about it, but I found I myself off the couch. I was in a very comfortable position on the couch. I'm off the couch right in front of the TV, and my wife is, too. And so we thought it was appropriate. I put on my Twitter account, a rendition of them two. So I was Patrick Reed, she was Rory. We did it in our backyard, which was pretty fun.

Q. You said your partner this week. Who's that?
WEBB SIMPSON: It's one of the 12 on our team (laughter).

Q. Your thoughts on the golf course, what you're seeing out there in terms of who it favors, just kind of the view of how narrow it is and how that may impact the matches.
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I think my two Ryder Cups, Medinah and Gleneagles, were similar in the sense there was plenty of birdies to be made. This week, not so much. And if you miss the fairways here, it's super penal. I'm sure guys have talked about it, but the rough is mowed back into us, so if a ball is in the rough, you're probably not getting it to the green, which might not change strategy per se off the tee, but it does change your mental approach thinking, I'm going to win.

There's going to be plenty of holes won in alternate-shot with pars and I even venture to say, I think there's going to be holes won in fourballs with pars, I really do. I mean, 18, there's a bunch of holes out there where you have to hit not only a great tee ball but you have to hit a great second shot.

So it is one of the hardest Ryder Cup course that I've seen in a while. It's just massive premium on fairway.

Q. Just for the record, do you remember how long that 3-wood pop-up went, by any chance?
WEBB SIMPSON: My guess is about 205.

Q. So just got over the 200 --

Q. -- level. What do you recall being a rookie, there's five on the European side and you have three of them. What's the dynamic, how difficult is that, and can that be an advantage or disadvantage for a team?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think when you have guys like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as your teammates, and then you have the Strickers and the Zach Johnsons, Jim Furyk, obviously, those guys help more than anybody. I can help a Bryson DeChambeau a little bit, but you know, there's guys who they have seen enough rookies now come on the teams, they know what to say and what not to say.

The main thing I told Bryson is, hey, play Bryson DeChambeau golf. It's gotten you a few wins this year and on The Ryder Cup Team and one of the best players in the world. When it comes to playing golf on Friday morning, it's Bryson DeChambeau golf, and you happen to have somebody there with you as a partner, he's there rooting for you, pulling for you, helping you. That's all I'll tell them is just do their own thing that's gotten them here.

Q. Without talking about who partners may be this week, but how do you think Bubba will do in this setting? How is he being treated out there, and we all know what he said about France, and you know, just how do you think his week is going to go?
WEBB SIMPSON: They have been great to him. I played in the same group as Bubba the last couple days, and they have been great. You know, over here, he's "Booba." We've been calling him "Booba." He got the crowd going on 18, got them to be really loud. He hit it 340 down there.

He'll be great. I've always said the crowds over here are great. They are very respectful and understand the game. I know it heightens it a little bit, The Ryder Cup, but I plan on hearing things that I might not like, but it's The Ryder Cup. They are going to deal with the same stuff in the United States.

It's all part of it.

Q. Has his knowledge of France improved any?
WEBB SIMPSON: It has. He just gets the terms confused every now and then. He's well aware. It's been said a few times, castle versus palace, but he's got it down now.

Q. The European Team has had a good time teasing each other and having a mickey at each other, whatever the expression is -- sorry, I'm a little daft at that. Are you doing the same thing as it relates to Bubba, teasing him about it a little bit, bringing out a smile instead of turning it into a negative thing?
WEBB SIMPSON: Absolutely. That's his love language. You know he loves you if he's giving you a hard time. I think Bubba and I have had success in the past because I tend to be a lot more serious on the golf course. He tends to be more laid back, joking around, and we kind of mold into this half-Bubba, half-Webb type of player. It's fun.

Teddy and Paul, they are good buddies. Yeah, when you give him a hard time, you've just got to know that he's going to get the last line in, kind of like Phil. They are very witty. They always have something to say. But it's relaxing at the same time.

Q. Do you think Europe is a strong team, and assuming the answer is yes, why do you think they are strong?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think they are strong every year in The Ryder Cup no matter who is on the team, or what form they are in. You know, they get excited about this event, as do we. I think this event is special and it stands out in the sense that a guy can come in, maybe as a captain's pick, maybe as a veteran, not having played well lately, but this tournament just does something different.

I think the way you've been playing, good or bad, I think it's a pretty level playing field. There's so much that goes into not only team chemistry but partner chemistry. I know they have some guys, maybe it's their first Ryder Cup, but there's enough guys -- I feel like since I played my first Ryder Cup in 2012, there's more and more assistants and people around the team room than there used to be, and that's nice. It's nice seeing the same faces every year, and they have done a good job of that.

Yeah, they have a great team, obviously, would be my answer. You know, they get The Ryder Cup well. You know, 2016 was a great example of how we're getting The Ryder Cup -- we're getting a lot better.

Q. You were 12 when Tiger won in Augusta, his first major. What is it like playing a Ryder Cup with him?
WEBB SIMPSON: Honestly, the older I'm getting, the more special it is. I realise, you know, he's the greatest player of all time, and you know, when I'm competing with him -- I played with him on Sunday at the BMW. I'm not going to go over and ask him advice, but this week, you know, the guy's won 80 times, and it's fun to think, not only I can go ask him some stuff, but he wants to help us out.

So I was happy to see him get that victory last week, and he's certainly playing with as much confidence as anybody.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Who has been your favourite rookie on the team so far?

WEBB SIMPSON: Probably Justin Thomas, I would say. No reason, just you.

NEIL AHERN: Thank you, Justin.

Q. You're used to showing up at new places with Paul and breaking down a golf course in a few days. How does that dynamic change when you have a captain and assistant captains and other teammates feeding into that? How much of that do you take in?
WEBB SIMPSON: A little bit. I mean, I certainly don't talk to any of the bombers about kind of what they are thinking, because I feel like my style of play is a lot different. But you know, we've got the John Woods out there, he's not caddying this event but he's still got a caddie eye. So whoever is hanging with us that day, they might pipe in and bring up something here or there.

For the most part, I still want to do everything I normally do with Paul, and bring in whoever I might play with to see, where would you want it here; and they might say, "I don't care how far back I am, I just want it in the fairway," whatever it might be.

Once I get my work done, I bring in who I might play with to weigh in a little bit.

Q. A lot of comparisons of this course to TPC Sawgrass. Do you see that, and how comfortable do you feel because of that?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, the thing that jumps out is that both courses, you have to hit it in the fairway. I feel like what you guys are going to see, the teams that are winning are the teams that are hitting more balls in the fairway and making putts. Not every Ryder Cup do you have to hit it in the fairway, but this one you do.

You know, our strategy, my personal strategy might not be to hit it as far as I can on every hole, but like I say, get it in the fairway.

There's certain gettable holes with three par 5s, depending on the wind, we can reach them all. Sawgrass has four reachable par 5s, but it's very much target golf like TPC.

NEIL AHERN: Looks like you're being subbed out. Thank you very much and have a great week.

WEBB SIMPSON: Come on, Justin.

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