Simpson focused on game as major life changes continue

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June 20, 2012
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

CROMWELL, Conn. -- The messages started pouring in immediately after Webb Simpson won the U.S. Open last Sunday.

Tom Watson wrote an email. Greg Norman left a voicemail. Arnold Palmer sent a note. Hale Irwin, whom Simpson has never met, even sent congratulations.

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"It hadn't really sunk in," Simpson said Wednesday at the Travelers Championship. "I've gotten so many texts and messages on Twitter. I got some emails from older guys who I've looked up to my whole life that I didn't expect. I've got a couple of emails from older golfers that I'm probably going to print out and frame."

A whole new world.

A new fantastic point of view.

No one to tell us no or where to go or say we're only dreaming.

A week ago, Simpson's caddie Paul Tesori, who has been notably important to Simpson's rise the last year, asked Simpson if he'd be happy with a second-place finish.

"I'm not going to lie; of course I would," Simpson recalled. "I've never contended in a major championship, and if we're all about trying to get better a second-place is only going to allow us to experience what it's like in a major in contention."

Now he's experiencing a whole new category: Major champion.

A self-describe happy-go-lucky guy, even Simpson can't believe it -- despite a pair of 68s on the weekend in one of the more difficult U.S. Opens in recent history.

It's why he turned to good friend and fellow major champion Bubba Watson, whom Simpson, along with PGA champion Keegan Bradley, will be paired with the first two rounds, for a little advice.

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Current standings
With just nine weeks remaining until the FedExCup playoffs get under way, Webb Simpson has a chance to continue his climb. Standings

"He texted me and asked what was going to be different," Watson said.

Try everything.

More fans. More autographs. More sponsor obligations. More media requests.

Even Simpson's own family wanted a piece of him with his father-in-law asking to take the trophy to the office for a day. Simpson obliged before the hardware was returned to the house, where he and expectant wife Dowd are trying to figure out where to put it.

It's a nice problem to have, but not always an easy one to manage.

"You're just going to have to be able to say no," Watson said.

Simpson admits that's not in his personality -- though he did say no to the late-night talk show circuit so he could be here preparing to play in the Travelers Championship.

The expectations, self or otherwise, are much higher now, too, and they're not easy to live up to.

Watson, for example, has played just three times since winning the Masters -- and he's missed the cut twice.

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"It's just a matter of me trying to continue to focus on the main thing and trying to continue what I do on a daily basis and not try to ignore it, but just embrace it," Simpson said. "In terms of my game falling off, I'm going to continue to work on the things that I think will make me better, and hopefully I can continue to play well."

Returning for a fifth time to TPC River Highlands should help. Though he's never played great here -- his best finish was a tie for 13th a year ago -- Simpson has never played all that poorly, either.

He'll also find some comfort playing with fellow first-timers Watson and Bradley.

Even so these are heady days for Simpson, who admitted that his hands are just now starting to slow down from all the shaking they've been doing the last few days.

He hasn't even had time to see a replay of the final round of the U.S. Open yet.

"We have it recorded, but I haven't watched it," Simpson said. "I'll watch it next week when I have a week off."

Maybe then it will sink in.

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