Simpson opened with a 65 Thursday at TPC River Highlands. (Cannon/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
CROMWELL, Conn. -- Webb Simpson knows how Justin Rose feels.
A year ago, it was Simpson who arrived at TPC River Highlands fresh off a U.S. Open victory and his first career major championship.
“The hardest thing for me is balancing the new opportunities that came, whether it's corporately or tournaments, where to play around the world,” Simpson said Thursday. “The other hard thing to do is to manage your expectations. Just because he won a major, it doesn't mean he's that different of a player.”
Simpson managed those expectations pretty well here a year ago, opening with a 66 after the same kind of media blitz Rose had earlier this week.
This year, Simpson, who tied for 32nd at last week’s U.S. Open, did one better, shooting a 65 Thursday to get within three of the early lead of Hunter Mahan.
“Last week is so stressful on every level,” Simpson said. “This week is nice in the sense that getting around is easy.”
Simpson made it look that way, too, with six birdies and just one bogey after hitting all but one fairway and all but two greens.
Like with Mahan, there’s a certain amount of comfort here for Simpson, who said he’s played this course more than any other on the PGA TOUR besides Bay Hill.