MARK STEVENS: Okay. I’d like to welcome defending champion, Webb Simpson. Webb, if you want to kind of talk about your thoughts coming in this week on defending. This will be your first time defending on the PGA TOUR and then we’ll take a few questions.
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah. I’m excited for the week. You know, I was looking forward to this week ever since last year winning here. You know, all my memories here are just awesome.
I mean to break through, have my first victory here hour and a half from where I grew up and hour and a half from where I live now, 30 minutes from Wake Forest, it was a perfect place to break through and win.
And never defended before, obviously, so I’m excited for that challenge and we got a great field this week and I know all the sponsors and Brazil, everybody is excited for the week and hopefully I can play well.
MARK STEVENS: Okay. Questions?
Q. Can you talk a little bit about what this week did for the rest of your year and the U.S. Open and winning again last year in the Playoffs?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think as a pro it was — the most important week I’ve had yet because there’s always a question of, you know, is this guy going to win or can he win and, you know, I feel like the number of times I put myself in position to win and didn’t get it done, I took the positives from those experiences and learned from them and you know, Vegas was tough in 2010, Tampa was tough, last year in New Orleans.
New Orleans was kind a big week for me. I realized I could play under the pressure and, you know, I was playing really well coming in this week last year and I didn’t expect to win but I felt confident that I could win and I don’t think I would have won Boston or the U.S. Open had I not won here and kind of opened me up for, you know, other tournaments and was able to play well the rest of the year.
Q. Webb, any additional pressure to defend and also with the course changes, it’s not the same greens so it is kind of a different feel?
Just talk about that a little bit.
WEBB SIMPSON: It is. You know, I think the pressure of trying to defend, I think it’s always going to be there. I can’t hide from it but, at the same time, I know that the three tournaments I’ve won on Tour I didn’t show up saying, “Okay, I’m going win this week” or I need to win or I feel pressure to win. Wins out here seem to come every so often.
It seems like when I look back on those weeks there are weeks when I showed up ready to play golf, ready to, you know, compete but all I was thinking about last year was getting the first shot on the first hole in the fairway and I think I got to take that approach of being patient this week and, you know, not thinking about — or not trying to not think about winning but just more of be patient, let the birdies come.
And, like you said, the greens are new so I got a lot of work to do today. I haven’t seen the course yet with the new greens. I’ve heard great things about them, they’re holding up great and the growth went well.
I think that alone will help me because, I mean, you show up to a place that you feel like you know so well, you can relax a little bit in your mind and it has a tendency for me to not be as sharp when that happens.
I think it will allow Paul and I to really do some good work today and try to figure it out.
Q. Are there any distractions playing in Greensboro? You got your half-brother, Sam, who lives here, other family members are close by?
Do you have a lot on your mind?
WEBB SIMPSON: I would say the first couple of years it was a lot harder to kind of juggle everything that comes with playing in the home event with friends and family and fans, and my wife has helped me out a lot with that. She does the tickets, she does the phone calls and the texts.
It makes my week a lot easier. We kind of figured out a good system for this week and the Wells Fargo. Definitely learning how to make the weeks easier and more enjoyable. At the end of the day when you got the City behind you and pulling for you, it’s a great feeling.
Q. With two kids now, you guys gone to zone defense or how does that work?
WEBB SIMPSON: Gone to zone and added another defender.
Q. How that’s been doing? The baby sleeping okay and everything?
WEBB SIMPSON: Everything is going well. Such — we feel so blessed to have two kids. You know, we looked at each other every day, I’m putting Will in the car, and we’re putting James in the car. What are we doing, we’re 27 and actually parents?
I felt this way when James was brought to the world that golf immediately shrinks back and becomes a lot smaller than family, as it should. And it just reminded me my month at home that I’m so fortunate to play golf for a living and do what I do.
I love playing golf and my office being the driving range is a great feeling but, you know, at the end of the day it’s my job and having family just keeps things in perspective and, you know, I’m okay if I don’t play well this week. Will coming into the world has reminded me of that already.
Q. Is your role as defending champ here going to help you for your role as defending champ in other tournaments down the road here, do you think?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think so. I’m a student of the game. I love to learn and so I’m an open book this week just to feel what it feels like to be a defending champ and I’m sure there will be some parts about it that might be difficult, just the pressure, expectations but, at the same time, I know this course, I’ve played well here.
I’m going to try to do my best to take those positives and apply it to the week and, like I said, just enjoy the opportunity of being a defending champ and see what I can do.
Q. You had kind of a quick week last week and you had a lot of time off. Can you talk about where your game is right now?
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah. It was great to get back into competition last week. I had an awful front-9 but, you know, I walked off the course after shooting 79, I was a little frustrated.
That night I talked to Paul and, you know, we went through the round again and we both agreed the front-9 I only hit one bad shot, one loose shot. The other stuff was little stuff, missed a couple 6-footers, misjudged some distance.
The majority of my mistakes were just from rust, from — mistakes that I normally would never make during the season.
And so I played a great final 27 holes and played a great round Friday and so I left — I’m disappointed I didn’t make the cut.
I’m kind of relieved I’m back in competition now. I got the rust off. It will help this week and, like you said, I got to go home a couple days extra. Wasn’t planning on it but with the stretch I have coming up I think in the end it will be a blessing in disguise.
Q. Wake Forest has done three separate billboards. Have you seen the one of you in Greensboro?
I know Wyndham has done some billboards, too. What does that say about Wake doing you, Kyle and Bill?
WEBB SIMPSON: It’s pretty cool. My dad always told me before I went to Wake that Wake is a family, guys that go there stay together, stay in touch and, you know, just the role they still play in all three of our lives is great and we love being part of Wake still and, you know, just the support they show us is very kind of them and keeps the tradition going.
Q. Have you seen the billboard?
WEBB SIMPSON: I hadn’t seen in it person. Somebody sent me a picture of it.
Q. You’re used to that, I guess.
WEBB SIMPSON: They did a good job.
Q. Has the school talked to you about maybe doing the commencement speech or getting an honorary doctorate?
WEBB SIMPSON: No. My GPA was just good enough to stay eligible for golf (laughter). But, you know, I’ve stayed in contact with obviously Jerry Haas and Ron Wellman writes me letters and e-mails often.
However they want to — however I can help the school, I want to do it and I love being in Charlotte only an hour and a half away and being able to get up to campus at anytime and seeing a game or two.
We’ll see what happens. I think I’m a little ways off from the commencement speech.
Q. What about opening the gate for the football game, maybe?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think — I was going to do something with Bill last year at the football game but I couldn’t do it, I had a prior commitment. I would love to do something like that.
MARK STEVENS: Okay. Any last questions? Thanks a lot. Have a good week.
WEBB SIMPSON: Thanks.
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