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September 21, 2011

Webb Simpson


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Webb Simpson into the interview room here at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, currently No. 1 in the FedExCup standings. Talk a little bit about your goals and expectations.
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, it's good to be here. I've never been to East Lake or the TOUR Championship, and my wife lived in Atlanta for a year and a half, so I love coming here. I played a lot of amateur golf here and college golf, so it's good to be back. You know, my goal starting the FedExCup Playoffs was to be in the top 5 coming in here. That's kind of the magical spot, 1 through 5, and to come in here being No. 1 is great. It's what we worked for all year, and it's just exciting, and looking forward to teeing off tomorrow.
JOHN BUSH: Recap your season for us, just unbelievable how consistent you were, and then to get the two wins, talk a little bit about the season as a whole.
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I mean, I've been very blessed this year. We had a little boy in February. I've been married now almost two years, so we've had a great year off the golf course, and just learning how to be parents and traveling as a married couple, so it's been great.
This time last year, I was telling somebody the other day, I didn't have my card secured, and this year at this point I've got two wins and played well all year. It's just crazy what can happen in a year. I look back and I'm just excited that we kind of stuck with our process and what we knew how to do. I was close early in the year to winning, couldn't quite get it done, and we just kind of stuck it out and tried to be patient. It was hard at times, but finally got that first win in Greensboro, and it was awesome. To turn around and two weeks later get in a playoff with Chez at Deutsche Bank was fun. Equally difficult to win, but having two wins now, I'm kind of shaking my head looking back at this year.

Q. How much did you find yourself thinking about your points position last week, and how would it be different or similar this week with this being the end of it?
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, it's hard not to think about where you stand and the money that comes with playing well from FedEx. That being said, Paul and I were talking today, we want to focus that much more on the golf course and the conditions that we're going to face because we feel like the more we can kind of get lost in the golf course and not think about where we're going to end up in the FedExCup, the better we'll play.
It's hard. It'll be in the back of our minds all week. But I think the better we can try to focus on winning this golf tournament, it'll kind of take care of itself.

Q. Can I get your comments on the 11th hole? How do you tactically approach that hole? Is it a birdie opportunity?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I think the 11th hole is a perfect par-3 for us because it's not that long. We're going to hit anywhere from a 7-iron to a 5-iron into a pretty fair green. But if you short side yourself, you're probably going to make 4. And also the front pins, we putted some from the back of the green to the front, and it's extremely quick. I think it's a perfectly fair, somewhat boring par-3, but it'll be one of those par-3s where none of the guys will complain but guys won't relax on that hole, either.

Q. And what about the 18th hole, how will you approach that tactically?
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, I know the pins have been in a couple different spots there on Sunday the last few years, over in the middle left and then back right. 18 is one of those holes where the only thing you can't do is hit it above the hole, so you can't hit it long left, long right or behind the green. You kind of accept you're probably going to make a bogey or two. If you play it great, you'll make four pars. It's just one of those holes where you can't let a bogey get you down. You're hitting a hybrid or a 5-wood even. You just really try to hit it to the front of the green, and if you get a 2, great, and if not, just try to get your pars.

Q. I know you talked about getting lost in the golf course, and you've never been here before. Can you talk about how you prepared for it and whether you think it suits your game?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, I think one of the things I love about it is it's a shot-maker's golf course. All the holes bent right to left or left to right, and there's so much strategy involved on golf courses like this because the rough is not incredibly deep but the ball sits down so you're going to have a lot of flier lies. Every hole you're going to have to talk about not only where you want to hit the ball but where your miss spots are. There's some places around these greens where you can miss it 15 feet left or right of the hole and have no chance of getting up-and-down.
My caddie and I are similar in that we really like to talk about shots, how to play shots. I'm not one of those guys that doesn't -- I don't care about knowing where the bad spots are. I'd rather him tell me you can't hit it left of the pin than not tell me at all. It'll be a challenge for everyone.
8-under won last year, and these are the best players playing the best golf in the world. So when 8-under wins, you've got to tell yourself if you shoot even par or right around even every day, you'll be right in it.

Q. You've been playing so well for so long. Do you feel like you're still in the same role? Does your game still feel as strong as it has?
WEBB SIMPSON: I do. You know, one thing that we're trying not to do this week is relax. I mean, it's a relaxing environment, no cut, 30 guys, big purse, great golf course, so it's easy to kind of get complacent and settle down. We're trying to just make sure the intensity and the focus are there. The momentum that I've had lately is definitely still there and helping, but we're just trying to act like it's our first tournament of the year, and when the gun goes off, just try to bring the intensity that we had in Hawai'i.

Q. How long have you used your long putter, and what factored into the decision to make that switch?
WEBB SIMPSON: I switched about seven years ago following my freshman year at Wake Forest. I was down in Pinehurst over Thanksgiving with my family and they had one in the pro shop. And I was putting inconsistent at the time, and I just tried it, more than anything because I was curious. I really liked it and tried it for nine holes maybe that day and putted really well, and I just stuck with it.

Q. Your pace of play has picked up a little bit here since you were sort of first in the last group type scenario at Tampa. I imagine some of that is just being more comfortable in this situation. I'm not going to say you're a jack rabbit out there, but obviously you're aware of it, and it looks like you've tried to make attempts to get closer to the red line on the odometer. Fair to say?

Q. Taking some flak over it obviously?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, and one of the other reasons is there's a big penalty if you get too many timings. If you get ten timings, there's a big fee.
But one thing Paul, my caddie, mentioned to me that he thinks I play a lot better when we stay in routine and I'm not backing off shots and not taking too much time thinking about a shot. New Orleans was kind of our breakthrough where he felt like my routine was the best it had ever been. I was quick. We still talked about our shot, but I hardly backed off at all.
You know, it's tough. You play in a British Open, you've got to back off a few times, but the better I can do with staying in my routine and playing quickly, the better I'll play probably.

Q. After the Greensboro tournament, you obviously expressed your religious beliefs. What did you major in at Wake Forest?
WEBB SIMPSON: I was a religion major.

Q. That sort of explains that then. Were you there on a Palmer Scholarship?

Q. Do you know Arnold very well?
WEBB SIMPSON: I know him pretty well. I first met him at the Wake Forest pro-am a few years ago when I was in high school, and then he gives a spot to the southern amateur champion in his tournament, so I played there in '06 and '08, and I got to speak with him there. It's fun to always talk to him. He remembers me, which makes me feel good. He meets so many people, but yeah, he's been fun to get to know over the years.
JOHN BUSH: Webb, we appreciate your time. Play well this week.

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