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February 2, 2012

Webb Simpson


JOE CHEMYCZ:¬† We welcome Webb Simpson in with a 6‑under 65.¬† Just start us off and talk about your round today and the good things that transpired out there.
WEBB SIMPSON:  Kind of my round was right in the middle.  Got off to a pretty solid start, birdied 14, 15, parred the treacherous 16th, then four in a row there in the middle of the round which kind of gave me a good jump start in the first round.  Only blemish was No.6.  I really didn't feel like I hit a bad shot.  I hit a chip that released a lot more than I thought it would, but other than that it was solid.  I think the thing that kind of held me in there all day was my putting.  I made a bunch of putts, so I'm excited about that.
JOE CHEMYCZ:  You had a good start here a couple years ago and finished T8 last year, so there's obviously something about this course that you like.
WEBB SIMPSON:  I do.  I liked it from the first year I came.  My caddie Paul, he's won here, and it's one of those courses that just fits your eye well.  You know when you come to Scottsdale in February it's not going to rain, so I love coming here.

Q.  Who did your caddie win with?
WEBB SIMPSON:  I think Vijay.  I think so.

Q.  Can you talk about No.2, the sand shot you hit real close that kind of capped that run through there?
WEBB SIMPSON:¬† Yeah, I had a good lie in the bunker and had 145 yards to the hole, I think, and just trying to hit an easy 9, one of those that just came out perfect, and landed great and ended up being a tap‑in, which we always want.¬† It was my favorite shot, I think, I've hit this year.

Q.¬† Can you talk a little bit about the off‑season?¬† You don't seem to have missed a beat from the way you finished last year to the way you're starting out this year.
WEBB SIMPSON:¬† Yeah, I mean, my off‑season was a lot shorter than what I'm used to, so I did a lot of resting.¬† I didn't really work on my game a ton.¬† I only had about a week and a half to really practice.
But my of one big things this year was you see so many players go out and have a big year and they come out and they struggle.  It's fine if I struggle, but I want to make sure that I'm doing the same things, I am continuing to work on the same things, the fundamentals.  I'm going to play a few different tournaments.  I think that's the only thing I'm doing differently.  But in terms of my workout and my practice, we're focused on getting better still.

Q.  Which one of the long putters do you use?
WEBB SIMPSON:¬† I use the Ping Craz‑E belly.

Q.  Has that been the one you've stuck with the whole way?
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yeah, it's the same model.  It's the second Ping I've used in seven years, seven and a half years.  And the only reason I really switched from the first one is because the insert was kind of getting dead on me.

Q.  The putting today, did you make any ones of length?
WEBB SIMPSON:¬† I made a few 12‑, 15‑footers.¬† The one on 17 I think was the longest, maybe 20, 25 feet.

Q.  How were the conditions out there, and how do you think the afternoon guys are going to stack up with the morning groups?
WEBB SIMPSON:  I think this morning, according to my phone, the wind was supposed to come around midday and it came earlier, so they might have less wind.  We didn't have a lot of wind, but enough to think about it.  But the greens are getting firm, and I think the difficult thing this afternoon will be just the greens bouncing.  The ball is really running, so the ball is going to go pretty far off the tee.  So I think tomorrow afternoon it's kind of the same idea, that it's going to go further, but the greens are going to be a little trickier.

Q.  Does it seem a little strange when you read or see that you're the highest ranked player in the world at a tournament, or are you getting used to that?
WEBB SIMPSON:¬† I'm getting used to it.¬† I don't think about that stuff that much.¬† I'm just a believer in you can climb up as quick as you can go down, so I don't pay attention to it that much.¬† It's nice to look‑‑ if I'm low on confidence I'll look at the World Rankings, hey, we're still there at the top.¬† But it's a good feeling knowing that.

Q.  What do you think sets you apart from other players on TOUR?
WEBB SIMPSON:  You know, I think when you get to this level, everyone is so good that I feel like I'm a lucky guy, feel like I have great people around me, great family, great teachers, great caddie.  I've seen so many guys surround themselves with a bad team.  But I think when it comes to this level, besides having good people around you, it's just a matter of working hard and staying focused on the right things.

Q.  Have you noticed in the last year certain elements of your game that you look at your peers, which I know you focus on your game a lot, but are there times when you look at their abilities, their shot, their skill sets, certain shots that you know how you perform and you say I perform better and I know it?
WEBB SIMPSON:  You're talking about when I look at their game?

Q.  Yeah, because your scoring average has been stellar in the last 15 months, and you and your peers know that.  You've seen it evolve over the course of the last year and a half.
WEBB SIMPSON:  Yeah, it does nothing but give me confidence.  I've never been a doubter of myself, but at the same time I've never been that guy who thinks he can beat anyone until this past year, and I think getting kind of over that hump has helped a lot, not being intimidated as easily around certain guys.  But I'm a learner.  I love to learn, and so in the course of a week I think I've already asked three or four guys this week how they hit a certain shot, just trying to expand my knowledge of the game.

Q.  There's a big difference between keeping that balance of being a learner and speaking with what you know in your game, and you said last year that you were finally comfortable with the fact that I just need to play my game.  How hard is that, balancing those two of learning but yet sticking to what you know?
WEBB SIMPSON:¬† It's a great question.¬† It's hard, because I was in the bunker with Ryuji Imada yesterday, and something Paul and I are trying to work on is getting more height out of the bunkers, and we watched him hit a couple that went straight up in the air.¬† I asked him how he did it, and I think it's just a lot of trial and error.¬† You can learn things and if you try them and you're comfortable‑‑ if Paul gives me a new drill to do and I don't like it at all, he can kind of sense it and we won't go there.¬† You've just got to learn how far you can take it I think mentally and just know your body and your mind really well.

Q.  What's your prediction for Sunday?
WEBB SIMPSON:  Patriots by 10.

Q.  Was that Keegan brainwashing you the whole way today?
WEBB SIMPSON:  No, when they interviewed me yesterday I think I said the Patriots, but that's my call.

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