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September 13, 2011

Webb Simpson


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome the FedExCup leader in points, Webb Simpson, fresh off his win two weeks ago at the Deutsche Bank Championship, and you've won two of your last three starts. I'm sure it was nice to have a week off. Maybe a couple comments about your mindset coming into this week at the BMW Championship and also maybe about your victory in Boston.
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, it was nice to get home for a week off. Deutsche Bank was my fourth tournament in a row, so I was a little burned out and ready to get home, so it was nice to get back to Charlotte for three or four days and then went to Pinehurst on the weekend with some friends to play golf, and we had a great time down there.
I think it's exactly what I needed in the middle of a long stretch of big events like this in the Playoffs. It was a good week. I feel rested and ready to go.
I love this golf course, played here in '09. It's the only time I played. I didn't play great, but I kind of feel like I know my way around here a little better. And coming off the win in Boston, looking back and reflecting on this, it was really exciting. I learned a lot. It was a lot different than the win in Greensboro because Greensboro I was at the lead or around the lead kind of all week, I was playing really good golf, and Boston I was kind of struggling through a couple rounds. I was only 5-under, middle of the pack, and played a good round Saturday in tough conditions and gave myself a chance to win Sunday and came out on top.
It was exciting, and you know, it was -- I didn't think the second win maybe would come that quick, but I'll take it.

Q. This stretch here, this last three tournaments, you've been red hot. On an overall basis what kind of triggered the sudden great play?
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, I think my ball-striking has been pretty much solid all year, and the putting, we've been putting average all year, and then I found something, I told you guys, at the PGA Championship in the first round. I noticed a little something that I aimed the ball in a tournament round a little quicker than I do on the putting green, and so I tweaked it a little bit. I putted great the rest of the PGA Championship. I know I missed the cut by 25 shots there (laughter), but I putted well. And you know, it kind of carried into Greensboro the last few events. The thing we found with my putting is really helping.

Q. You clearly took a step up, just kind of following up on what he said, this year. Your driving distance average is up over 13 yards, and I believe you've added some width to your swing. Can you talk about the overall key to taking a step up this year, and also expound on the putting routine?
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, the putting -- I just noticed that when I was over a putt in a tournament round, I aimed the putter -- the amount of time I took to aim the putter was quicker than the amount of time I took to aim it on the putting green. I seemed to aim it a lot better on the putting green, so I need to take a half a second or a second longer to aim it, and that's the only thing. I noticed the balls are starting more on line more frequently than they were.
But in terms of driving distance, I've for the first time been working with a workout team, Back Nine Fitness out of Fort Worth, Texas, and I started working with them last November. We just tried to work on my body and become more healthy. Kind of my No. 1 goal in working with them was longevity. I want to be able to play out here for a long time, and injuries prevent a lot of great players from doing what they want to do. I figure while I'm young and can handle working out a little harder, I want to do it.
I think that's been kind of the -- 90 percent of the contributing factor to hitting the ball further, and I think the other 10 percent is my technique has just gotten better.

Q. You lead the point standings right now. Have you allowed your mind to wander a little bit and think about what you're going to do if you win the $10 million?
WEBB SIMPSON: A little bit. You know, $10 million is a ridiculously large amount of money and an unbelievable prize. What FedEx does with our TOUR is unbelievable, and it goes so far beyond just winning the $10 million, all throughout the year all these FedExCup Playoffs, how much they're involved in retirement for us players. It is very exciting.
You know, at the end of the day, we want to win golf tournaments, but when $10 million is at stake, you can't not think about that. Part of me is kind of happy this week isn't determining who's going to win because you get one more week to focus on the golf. I know in Atlanta it'll be a lot more focus I'm sure on the $10 million. Still the goal remains you want to be in the top 5 position going into East Lake.

Q. Give me one thing, car, new house, something?
WEBB SIMPSON: More diapers? I don't have anything in mind yet. We'll see. My wife and I will think of something fun.

Q. You mentioned that you love this course. You played great here in '09. What specifically do you love about it?
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, I think it's right in front of you. I mean, it's a beautiful golf course. I don't think there's any houses out here, so it's really traditional, big trees, and it's one of the -- a third of the courses a year I think are like this; if you play well and you play proper shots you're going to get rewarded. If you don't play well it'll eat you up because it is long, it is tough, and we'll get cooler weather and maybe some wind so you've got different conditions to deal with, as well. Seems like great players win here over the years; Dustin won last year; Tiger has won here a number of times. So I'm looking forward to it.

Q. You mentioned a couple things. You said you improved your technique a little bit with your driver. Could you talk about that?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah. Every since I started playing, kind of my negative tendencies in my swing where I would move my head and my body off the ball in my backswing, I would kind of sway back, and that would just prevent me from having a good weight transfer through the ball. A drill that my caddie, we've done every day this year that we've played is he'll hold the end of a club about an inch behind my head so if I go back too far I'll hit the club. It's allowed me to stay more centered over the ball, and if I stay more centered my weight transfer through the ball is easier.

Q. About choking points, everybody has one. For some people it's money, others it's titles. What is it for you?
WEBB SIMPSON: You know, I think every player, including the best player of our day, Tiger Woods, has had times where he hasn't performed under the gun. So I mean, I think there's times that you can say a player choked, but at the same time there's so many things that we're dealing with on the last hole, and for me, the money or winning a tournament, what that means, that doesn't really affect me as I just want to hit this golf shot with all this pressure, and if I don't do it then I didn't do it and I need to learn.
For example, last year at Las Vegas I was leading the tournament by one standing on the 17th hole and I was nervous as can be leading a golf tournament. I hit it left in the water. People can call it a choke, but at the same time it was the way I handled being nervous in that situation, and I learned from it. I was in the exact same situation in New Orleans this year with Bubba Watson: 17th hole, had water left, par-3, longer hole, and I hit a great shot. It wasn't that -- I don't think it was that I didn't choke then, it was just, hey, I learned from my mistake then and getting quick in my swing, and now I was able to perform under the gun.
If I'm standing over a putt on 18 at East Lake and it's for the FedExCup, I'm sure I'll be ridiculously nervous. By I'll be over it and thinking I'm going to do the best I can to start this ball on line.

Q. A win is a win obviously, but moving forward in your career, especially at the young stages of your career, can you maybe learn more from the way you won two weeks ago in Boston as opposed to maybe cruising a little bit more in Greensboro?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, absolutely, because my caddie and I were just talking on the putting green, one thing I did learn was it never felt like we were going to win. I think us golfers lean too much on our feelings because if we hit a great shot -- if you stripe it down the first hole, you have a thought, well, I'm going to drive it well today. Last week in Boston I was just kind of -- my attitude wasn't great through the first two rounds, and nothing was really going well. To hang in there and just say, if we can play solid Saturday and give ourselves a chance Sunday, you never know. And that kind of came of fruition Sunday, and when I found myself in a playoff I immediately fell back to Thursday and Friday were terrible in my mind, and we're standing here in a playoff.

Q. You've got three names, James, Frederick and Webb. How did Webb come about?
WEBB SIMPSON: It's after my mom's dad. His name is James Fred Webb. My parents, as much as they loved me, wanted to confuse me, so when I go get my license or go through an airport everybody thinks I'm a terrorist because my tickets are always booked Webb Simpson but my first name is James. I always said we're not going to give our kids four names, but my first born, he has four names, so it's confusing. He's James Frederick Webb Simpson.

Q. I'm just wondering about your mindset this week because you're in a unique position because you're probably not going to fall out of the top 5. Do you go into this event maybe thinking, well, I need to set up my game for next week, or what is your mindset this week?
WEBB SIMPSON: You know, our mindset this week is pretty much going to be the exact same as it was in Hawai'i for the Sony Open, that we're going to prepare these next couple days for this golf course, and the only shot we're going to worry about the first tee shot. As soon as I start thinking too much ahead about Atlanta or winning the FedExCup, that's kind of when I get in trouble. You start expecting results or thinking about results, and the only -- the best I play is when I think about my next shot.
Sure, it's going to be in the back of my head, wanting to remain in the No. 1 position or stay in the top 5, but the only thing I can really control is what I do. I can't really control what Luke or Dustin or any of the other guys do.

Q. Would your mindset be the same if you were in a different position in the standings, 41st or 51st?
WEBB SIMPSON: A little bit, but if I'm starting the week out and I had to finish top 3 to get to Atlanta let's say, I can't really make that happen. I didn't show up in Greensboro saying, whatever I'm doing these next few days, I've got to do it so I can win. All I was doing is preparing for another golf tournament and trying to get myself in a position where I could have a chance to win. Sure, we all want to win, but you can't really make things happen before the first tee ball is in the air.

Q. I've got a two-part question. The par-3, 12th, it's 221 yards. Could you walk us through that tee to green?
WEBB SIMPSON: Just describe it? Yeah, 12 is a tough par-3. It's a fair par-3. They give you a bail-out area on the front right with a bunker. Kind of two places you don't want to miss there are left and long because it'll run down a really big, steep hill and you'll probably make a big number if you miss it left or long there. But being as long as it is, it's fair because the green is big enough where if you hit a decent shot you can get on the putting surface.

Q. And No. 14, also a par-3, 218 yards. Kind of your thoughts or strategy when you're playing that hole?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I mean, 14 is a tough hole, I think a little tougher than 12. I think you're hitting a longer club, usually one or two clubs more, and they can kind of tuck the pins back, middle right, over the bunkers. That's one of those holes where my caddie and I will be on that green tomorrow in the pro-am and the goal there is going to be the center of the green every day. As soon as we start trying to hit shots into the pins and trying to get it close, we'll make a quick bogey. If you walk out of those two holes making four 3s on each, you'll beat the field for sure.

Q. You Tweet fairly often. Some guys have decided that they don't want to Tweet. What do you get out of it?
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, I like Twitter. I like the social media aspect of it. But kind of the main -- my main reason I signed on was just kind of to read what other people said. I loved hearing what other athletes say or other people I like to follow. But at the same time, getting in contention, I get more followers; I win, I get more followers, and there's a lot of negativity there, people saying really mean things.
So last week I deleted it on my phone. I still have the account, but it was just kind of -- it's hard not to read what people say. Don't get me wrong, 90 percent of the people were very complimentary, but you still have people out there that they want to share their opinion any way possible. I'm signed off currently right now.

Q. So you're not worried about getting a lot more followers if you were to win like $10 million?
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, I figured I'd keep the account because in case my sponsors want me to do a little more talking on Twitter about my sponsors. But I might sign back on to check it out if I won the FedExCup.

Q. Until the last month, you've been a little under the radar with other guys in their mid 20s, the Schwartzels or the Kaymers or even younger, McIlroy, Rickie Fowler has gotten a lot of attention. Where do you think you fit in with that crowd, and what are your long-range goals?
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, I think it's a cool time for golf right now because you guys are seeing so many people in their 20s win and it seems like the better players are getting younger and younger. The last few years watching the guys who were my age or just older win golf tournaments, it pushed me to want to get to that level and compete with those guys. You're sitting back and you're watching them play in the biggest tournaments that the game has to offer, and the competitor inside you wants to be in those tournaments and competing against those guys.
You know, whether they're better than me or not, I'm not sure. But I'm just a firm believer in doing what I know how to do to improve, and if I do those things, sooner or later I'll either catch up or get to their level or pass them. It's been nice the last three weeks to win a couple times and maybe get in the mix of those great young players.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Webb Simpson, thank you, and good luck this week.

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