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July 18, 2019

Webb Simpson

Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Q. General thoughts.
WEBB SIMPSON: Very pleased. Had it going out there. I just played really solid all day. And obviously a clean card until 17. Just a mental error on 17. When you're playing in The Open Championship, there's so many factors to deal with. It got gusty there on 17 and 18. Instead of committing to what I had come up with, I didn't back off. Hit a bad shot. Then 18 was playing hard. I hit a drive, a 4-iron in. Tough, it's a 90-footer, just misjudged the speed.

All in all a really good start. And it doesn't look like it's going to play easy this afternoon.

Q. When you look at your record here, do you take more from that round?
WEBB SIMPSON: It played really difficult. And I think I managed really well. I hit a couple of shots that could have been in trouble but we chose the right club.

And so for me, all I care about in the first two or three rounds is put myself in a place to have a chance to win, and I did that today. So job done.

Q. Do you feel fortunate you were in the early group? Do you think that helps?
WEBB SIMPSON: Absolutely. I feel like you can never really know who had the better draw until tomorrow night. But this would not be fun to play in right now.

Q. How was the rough?
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, they've done such a great job setting this course up, where you have fairway first cut and then about 7 or 8 yards of light rough. So a shot that's not that bad is still okay. And then a really bad shot is super penal, which I think is the perfect way to set it up. Because a bad drive you're going to have a pitch out.

But like 11, for example, I pulled it a little and I was in the rough but I was in that first 6 or 7 yards and I was able to go for the green.

Q. What are your strategies for tomorrow?
WEBB SIMPSON: It's hard to tell with what the weather is going to do. It's very weather-dependent. I'm typically a slightly safer player off the tee, laying back a little bit away from the bunkers than some guys. That won't change much.

Q. Does the course feed into that for you?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think so. I mean, these bunkers, though they're not the traditional like links style, they're almost worse, because the ball comes all the way back on the downslope.

St. Andrews, there's plenty of bunkers where you can go for the green from the pot bunkers, but not here. Pretty much every fairway bunker here you're pitching out. That's why I'm laying way back. A few times todays guys in my group were going a lot further than me. Good for them, they're confident. I'm wanting to be a little safer.

Q. Did you swing by here before the Walker Cup in '07?
WEBB SIMPSON: We did not.

Q. I wanted to ask you, I like asking all the golfers, when did you feel that this was going to be a good round? Did you know from the start?
WEBB SIMPSON: No, not really. I was even par through the six holes, and those first six holes you can make some birdies. But I've been out here long enough to know that your feelings can be fleeting. So I've been 2-over before and shot 5-under, and been 2-under and shot 5-over. Once the birdies started rolling on the back, I felt pretty good.

Q. Laying back on your tee shot, what's the longest iron into a par 4?
WEBB SIMPSON: The longest iron into a par 4, I hit a couple of 4-irons. But those holes I couldn't even help it, because they were 11 and 18, so they're into the wind.

So, yeah, I mean maybe a mid-iron in terms of what you're talking about. But they do a great job. I feel like the long holes are -- the greens are big enough and there's always a safe side of the hole. Like 16, I hit 5-wood today, the par-3, but left is fine. They do a good job around here of letting one side be safe.

Q. How many drivers did you hit?
WEBB SIMPSON: My guess would be five. And I hit drivers, 3-woods, 5-woods, hybrids, pretty spread out.

Q. How would you compare this course to other British Open courses?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think the difference is it's more undulating than what we're used to. Most of the courses we play are pretty much dead flat. This has more undulation. So maybe a few more blind shots. But still feels very linksy.

Q. Do you like it?
WEBB SIMPSON: I love it, yeah. I do. It's one of the few courses that every player who's played it that I've talked to this year, they all loved it. Usually you'll have both sides. But everybody loved it.

My expectations were pretty high. I've been impressed.

Q. Why do you think that is?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think we all love fair golf courses. Anytime we get to a place that doesn't seem fair or tricked up, we don't like it. And this course is very much right in front of you. A hole like 1, for example, you can hit driver if you want, I watched Darren Clarke at breakfast he hit driver and probably had a sand wedge in. And I hit a 3-iron and laid way back. I had 190 yards to the hole.

Almost every hole affords you that opportunity to go as far up as you want.

Q. Are you able to sense how important this is for this area?
WEBB SIMPSON: Absolutely. They're great fans over here at every Open. But I know they're pretty passionate, not having been here in, what, 68 years or whatever? Yeah, they're great.

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