Northern Trust Open interview: Webb SimpsonFebruary 16, 2013
LAURA NEAL: Webb, talk about your round today and expectations heading into tomorrow.
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, the course, as Bill just talked about, completely different from the first two days. It was firm and fast, and the back nine, especially, reminded me of a U.S. Open, just the way the ball is releasing, and the temperature got up, which made the ball go even further.
So it was difficult to get the ball close to the pin, especially front pin. I had a lot of 3 and 4 footers today for par. Just managed myself well around the course, made one bogey. Bill shooting 7 under is incredible out there. I mean, it was very tough. I felt like my 3 under was pretty good. And I didn't know what he shot. I just looked at my phone as I'm eating, so he played great.
Tomorrow should be fun. Hopefully I get to play with him because he's a good friend and we'll have a good time.
Q. What about this golf course is the most challenging for you?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think the way the greens are designed. There's so much undulation and there's so many bowls, you can get balls close to the hole if you get it close to the hole but at the same time there's such a fine line between a ball rolling close to the hole or staying up on the right side and you didn't get it up and down.
On No. 6 today the par 3, I pulled it about 20 feet left, and it stayed up there. But a yard right, it would have gone down to the hole probably within two or three feet; so I think just the trickiness of the golf course.
I think 10 is a perfect example of how Riviera is: It doesn't seem that hard, but a lot can go wrong in a quick second out here.
Q. Does that trickiness make it more difficult to be the chaser like you will be tomorrow in terms of trying to make something happen?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think someone in my position, it doesn't matter what course or how difficult the course is playing. Whoever is going to win the golf tournament tomorrow is going to go out and play a really good, solid round.
It is going to be a little more difficult for the guys behind Bill to make a charge and try to play aggressively with how firm everything is. But you know, did it today, and so at least we all know it's out there for us.
Q. Seemed like a lot of putts were running out, and if that made you at all tentative.
WEBB SIMPSON: Seemed like as we progressed in the round, the greens got quicker, so you just kind of have to adjust hole by hole. I had a couple putts today I've never had before, and I ran a few of those by.
So it does make you a little more tentative, because you know, certain courses, you have a 20 footer, you're trying to make it. Out here, it's more I'm trying to leave it around the hole and if it goes in, it goes in. This poa annua, it gets a little bumpy late in the day. You have to do a good job of putting it in the fairway and your approach shots of keeping it under the hole. I think that will be probably the biggest key tomorrow is where we want to putt from.
Q. You said Bill and yourself are great friends, how did the friendship develop and how are you with playing with good friends in a situation like this?
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, just been kind of a big brother to me. I missed him at Wake Forest by a year. He graduated year I came in, so we never played together. He's really looked after me on TOUR. We have fun hanging out. Our wives are friends. They are pregnant. I'm happy for him; he's going to be a dad.
How will it affect me? I mean, I play with my friends all the time out here so I don't think it will affect me one way or the other. I love playing with guys that I can have conversations with and have a good time. So it will be fun.
Q. When you say he's a big brother to you...
WEBB SIMPSON: You know, he just made himself available to me, whatever I needed, whether it was a practice round or talking about a golf course or figuring out how to travel, all those things that a rookie needs to figure out. He was there for me.
You know, he's one of those guys that I feel like when I do play well, he's really happy for me. It's pretty competitive out here. You know, just compliments me a lot, so I think just shows what kind of person he is.
Q. You laid up on 10 and hit a nice wedge and made birdie; that your normal strategy for that hole or tomorrow, can you see a scenario where trying to make up a little bit of difference, you try and drive is it a little closer to the green?
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, I hit 3 wood the first round and I hit it left. It end up being perfect. I was able to pitch up the green, and the last two days, I've laid up.
I think a lot will depends on how firm it gets, because if it continues to get really firm, and I play the front and the greens are bouncing even more, I mean, you're almost forced to go for it. It's such a small area to try to land a wedge shot.
I've hit a couple good wedge shots the last two days laying up, but we went back and saw the pin today. We talked about it, and you know, tomorrow is a pin where if you can get it in the bunker just short of the green or just behind the green, it's actually okay. And even if you hit it long left, it's okay, because you can kind of use the slopes.
So tomorrow might appear to be the toughest pin, but you can do a lot with it. So like Bill said, it will be a game time decision once we get on the tee.
Q. How wide open is it tomorrow? How many guys are in contention tomorrow?
WEBB SIMPSON: I haven't looked at the leaderboard but it seems like it was bunched. I think Bill is in a position, if he keeps a three shot lead and goes and plays well again, it's going to be hard to catch him. But with the golf course this tricky, and you get a guy that has a good front nine, I mean, he could be tied or even in the lead with nine to go.
So I think anything can happen tomorrow.
LAURA NEAL: Webb, thanks so much. Good luck tomorrow.