Webb Simpson hopes a long journey will pay dividends in the shape of an overdue Sony Open victory as he targets a Ryder Cup return.
Simpson has finished fourth, third and fourth in his last three starts at Waialae Country Club, although he comes into the event without the benefit of starting the year in the previous week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions.
That tournament is reserved for winners on the PGA Tour in the preceding season and Simpson failed to add to his seven tour titles in 2021, recording five top 10s in 21 starts as he battled Covid-19 and a neck injury.
Webb Simpson meets the media Tuesday at the Sony Open in Hawaii. His last three starts at Waialae: T4/2018, 3/2020, 3/2021. pic.twitter.com/zMKmZ3LioI— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) January 12, 2022
The 36-year-old fell from eighth in the world to his current position of 29th and missed out on a wild card for the Ryder Cup won in record-breaking fashion by the United States at Whistling Straits.
“This is really far from Charlotte, it’s really far,” Simpson told a pre-tournament press conference in Hawaii.
“I realised that when I got off the plane in Phoenix, I’m not even halfway there. It’s further for me to come here than The Open Championship. But it’s a trip worth taking.
“I love it here. I have great memories here. And it is a golf course that if I put top five favourite courses for me and my game, this would be one of them. It’s short, it’s tight, we have dog-legs, we have wind, I love Bermuda greens.”
Simpson finished 13th in Ryder Cup qualifying but missed out on one of the six wild cards available to captain Steve Stricker, who opted for the players ranked seventh to 10th, Daniel Berger (12th) and Scottie Scheffler (14th).
Berger and Scheffler were among the four rookies chosen by Stricker and Simpson feels that represented something of a shift in approach for the biennial contest.
“I feel like the game is changing a bit of in the sense that experience in team events and team experience in majors used to be more beneficial, and I don’t know why,” Simpson added. “Maybe young guys are just less afraid.
“I don’t know exactly what it is, but I feel like the same is (true) in the Ryder Cup. I feel like 20 years ago I might have been the pick because I had played six team events.
“But now, like Scottie Scheffler, unbelievable player. And one, he’s not afraid; two, he knows how to perform well in big events. He’s already done it in the majors.
“And so I think Stricker was after more of, you know, just a different player than me, which is fine.
“It didn’t make me mad. Just made me want to work harder. Like I said I have a dream of being a captain one day of a team, and I know I’m going to have that same situation.
“Every captain has to deal with telling a couple, two or three guys that they are not on it, that they were close, and get the good phone call of telling the guys that they made it, they are the pick.”