Todd, Simpson take friendship to RSM’s final group
November 23, 2019
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Webb Simpson's Round 3 highlights from The RSM Classic
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Their duels date back to the Donald Ross Junior during their teen-aged years in North Carolina. On Sunday, Brendon Todd and Webb Simpson will face each other for a PGA TOUR title.
They’ll play in The RSM Classic’s final group alongside Sebastian Munoz. Todd, seeking his third consecutive victory, continued his incredible comeback with a 62 on Saturday at Sea Island’s Seaside Course. Simpson shot 63. He trails Todd by two shots, as does Munoz.
They first met when Todd moved to North Carolina in middle school and immediately started challenging Simpson’s dominance in the state.
“I was kind of winning golf tournaments and then he moves to Cary, North Carolina, and he starts beating me like a drum,” Simpson said. “He was really good and I think we kind of inspired each other growing up. I'm only a couple months younger, but a grade behind him, so he definitely pushed me and hopefully I pushed him.”
They also supported each other during the tough times, talking on the phone when they were struggling with their games. Simpson endured a winless streak of nearly five years after he was forced to switch putters. Todd’s slump was much deeper. He got the full-swing yips and had a tough time just breaking par.
“We both just try to encourage each other and try to be open about what we're feeling and how we solve it and I think we both have kind of helped each other in that way,” Todd said.
Saturday’s 62 was Todd’s 12th consecutive round of 68 or better. Four of those rounds have been 63 or lower. Impressive for someone who once went 828 days without breaking 70 in a stroke-play event on either the Korn Ferry Tour or PGA TOUR.
“That just proves what kind of guts he has inside of him to not give up or throw in the towel,” Simpson said.
Todd is trying to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2006 to win three consecutive events. Simpson is the highest-ranked player in the field, though, and has done everything but win at Sea Island. Munoz won the Sanderson Farms Championship two months ago and ranks fifth in the FedExCup.
Todd admitted Saturday that it will be difficult to not think about what’s at stake Sunday, but handling the stress of the past few years has prepared him to handle final-round nerves.
“I've had to be so disciplined over the last year mentally about just focusing in on ever shot, that I'm aiming to kind of use that experience to my advantage now,” Todd said.Eighteen years ago, Brendon Todd and Webb Simpson won the 2001 NC Four-Ball at Chapel Hill Country Club. (Carolinas Golf Association)
Todd leads the field in driving accuracy, missing just one fairway through three rounds. On Saturday, he hit every fairway and missed just one green. He started the day four off the lead, but birdied four of his first five holes and made the turn in 6-under 29. He’s gone 35 consecutive holes without a bogey on the Seaside Course.
He also gained 3.4 strokes on the green Saturday, holing four putts from outside 15 feet. It could have been even lower, but multiple putts lipped out.
“it was like a video game out there today,” Todd said. “Just thrilled with the way I'm hitting it and feeling out there. I fought unbelievably well today.”
Putting has always been his strength, but a few recent changes have increased his confidence on the greens. He switched to a Sik putter last month. At the Houston Open, he added a long red line to his ball to aid with his alignment. A final-round 66 there kicked off the current run.
Simpson also hit 17 greens Saturday. He didn’t hole a putt outside 10 feet until making a 27-footer for birdie on the final hole. That moved him a stroke closer to his childhood friend who sits atop the leaderboard.
Todd called Simpson “the best friend anybody could ask for.” They’ll be trying to beat each other Sunday, though.