July 29 2011
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- It was hard to tell what made Webb Simpson happier on Friday afternoon.
Was it the fact that he was tied for the lead at The Greenbrier Classic or the fact that he played well enough his wife Dowd would likely make the drive up I-77 from Charlotte, N.C., with their baby James to watch him play the last two rounds?
"I told my wife that I'm going to go out and be in the lead so you've got to come for the weekend," a grinning Simpson told reporters just minutes after jokingly asking a Golf Channel reporter if he could say hello to his family on the air.
Mission, as they say, accomplished. And make no mistake, this weekend could be a life-changer for Simpson, who could rise as high as second in the FedExCup with his first PGA TOUR victory.
He will play in the final group on Saturday with Brendon de Jonge, also seeking his breakthrough win. The two are tied at 7 under, one stroke ahead of Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champ on the comeback trail after wrist surgery.
Simpson made his move Friday on the back nine. He hit a wedge from 85 yards to 6 feet for birdie at the 10th hole, then answered a bogey at the 11th by getting up-and-down from behind the green at the par-5 12th. He added a 12-footer for birdie at the 14th hole and finished it off the 68 with a 7-footer on No. 18 that he called "icing on the cake."
"Starting out I didn't hit very many good shots," Simpson said. "But I tried to keep the ball in front of me and started dialing it in more on the back."
Depending on what happens this weekend, Simpson could play his way into his first World Golf Championships. He currently stands 53rd in the Official World Golf Ranking and anyone who stands inside the top 50 on Monday gets to play in next week's Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
Not to mention, the young man who ranks 15th in the U.S. Presidents Cup roster could threaten the automatic top 10, as well.
Even with everything at stake, though, the low-key Simpson is working hard to keep things in perspective.
"It's all a good feeling knowing I have a chance to win going into the weekend," Simpson said. "But it was just another couple of solid rounds. And this afternoon was trickier with the wind. But I was able to get a couple of coming in, which is always nice."