Simpson hopes for hot week in National

Webb Simpson is running hot and cold this season, and he is trying to heat up again with the summer weather in the Quicken Loans National.

The 2012 U.S. Open champion, coming off a disappointing tie for 45th in the second major of the year at Pinehurst No. 2, will try to build some momentum heading toward the Open Championship next month at Royal Liverpool when he plays this week at Congressional.

“I obviously had a great start last October in Vegas,” Simpson said of his victory in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, his first event of the PGA Tour’s new wraparound schedule for 2013-14. “And it’s a funny new season we have. I’ve won this year, but it didn’t seem like it, because it was 10 months ago, or eight months ago.

“But what I try to focus on every year is to try to be ready for the majors and ready for the end-of-the-year stretch. I have a lot of golf coming up, and the FedEx Cup is so big for us. And I want my game trending in that direction toward the end of the year, of just getting better and better and hopefully peaking at the right times.

“Every tournament is important, but there’s a few tournaments that stick out to all us players that we want to play better in. The better the field, the better you want to play. I do feel good about my game.”

Simpson reeled off top-10 finishes in his first three tournaments of the season and five of the first seven, capped by a tie for ninth in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, where he lost in the third round to Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa.

That fast start allowed him to stay at home a little more often in Charlotte, N.C., and for good reason, as his wife, Dowd, was about to give birth to their third child, Wyndham Rose, who arrived May 15.

However, playing less cost him that early momentum. His only top-10 finish in his past eight events was a tie for third in the FedEx St. Jude Classic, and he missed the cut in the Masters and the Players Championship.

With tournament host Tiger Woods figuring to grab most of the attention this week when he returns from back surgery to play at Congressional, perhaps Simpson can fly under the radar and regain that early form.

“It’s kind of the tale of two cities this season,” said Simpson, who has four victories in his PGA Tour career, the first coming in the 2011 Wyndham Championship, which gave him the name for his new daughter. “As bad as I feel like I’ve played the last month and a half … I’m (well-placed) in the FedEx Cup standings and on the money list.

“So the good thing and positives that I’m taking away is although I played really poorly the last six or seven weeks, I’m still doing well in the FedEx Cup, so that’s a positive. I always try to look for the positives.

“I’m just trying to get better. We’ve tinkered with a few things the last couple months and we’ve tried to change equipment here and there, but I’ve remained positive, and I feel like the work we’ve put in will pay off, whether it’s this week, in a month or three months.”

Coming off his tie for third in the St. Jude Classic, Simpson was the local favorite at Pinehurst, as he grew up in Raleigh, played at Wake Forest and lives less than two hours away in Charlotte.

Not only that, but he probably knew more about the famed No. 2 course than any player in the field, having played the Donald Ross gem often because his family owned a second home at Pinehurst Resort when he was a youngster.

However, Simpson couldn’t even equal the par of 70 in any of his four rounds, posting scores of 71-72-73-74.

“Difficult,” he said after playing alongside Phil Mickelson on Saturday. “Much, much more difficult than the first two days.”

When it was over, he took to Twitter and posted this: “I LOVE the US Open. I just didn’t score well enough to compete. Pinehurst No. 2 was set up so beautifully, but hard! Congrats to Martin Kaymer on his 2nd major! He played amazing golf all week!”

In an up-and-down season, Simpson hopes the pendulum starts swinging back in his favor this week at Congressional, where he tied for 14th in the 2011 U.S. Open.


Story courtesy of The Sports Xchange, TSX Golf Editor Tom LaMarre

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