Simpson sees success with short putter
Shoots 62 using conventional putter for first time in PGA TOUR event
January 15, 2015
By D.J. Piehowski , PGATOUR.COM
- Webb Simpson needed just 10 putts to shoot 28 on the front nine at Waialae with his new conventional putter. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
HONOLULU — Webb Simpson was nervous about Thursday’s round. Specifically, he was nervous when he got to the 10th green to putt.
For the first time in his PGA TOUR career, Simpson used a conventional length putter, ditching the belly putter he switched to more than 10 years ago in preparation for the Jan. 1, 2016, anchoring ban.
Things went pretty well.
Simpson fired an opening-round 62 to grab a share of the early lead at the Sony Open in Hawaii, including a front-nine 28 (his second nine) in which he took 10 putts.
“Today was a big day for me,” Simpson said. “It was one of my best putting rounds I've ever had to be honest.”
Simpson switched to the shorter putter this fall in Japan, but didn’t enjoy much success. He finished T55 at the Dunlop Phoenix. After the morning wave at Waialae, he shared the lead with Paul Casey after the lowest round of his career.
“I think the biggest thing --I don't know if you hear Keegan (Bradley) or whoever else, Adam (Scott), talk about it, the pressure comes when there's expectation,” Simpson said. “There's more focus on you, which you know, two ways to deal with it. One, it can negatively affect you, or two, you can realize that, hey, that's just how it is and you've got to play through it.”
Simpson had more secret weapons than his new 34-inch Odyssey White Hot putter. He also had a half-day lesson with Butch Harmon under his belt.
“I had never seen him before,” he said. “What my caddie and I are working on, we wanted to make sure that we were doing it the right way, and he was nice enough to give us some time. I had a good day with him, and the changes are simple. You wouldn't notice them per se, but just trying to get a little better, so that's the goal.”
Webb Simpson’s First round highlights at Sony Open
LONELY ONE: Standing on the tee at the par-3 fourth, it took Geoff Ogilvy about three or four seconds to realize what was going on. Watching the marshall behind the green was not much help.
“It was a quality shot, I figured it was going to be somewhere near the hole,” Ogilvy said. “But the reaction was pretty… subdued. I wasn’t sure if it went in or dribbled off the back.”
Sure enough, Ogilvy’s 5-iron from 212 yards found the bottom of the cup, giving him his first ace on the PGA TOUR. It was the highlight of an opening-round 69.
“That was the only way I could get the ball to find the hole today, unfortunately,” he said with a laugh after his round.
Ogilvy is unsure of the number of aces he’s made in his life, but he guesses it to be around 6 or 7. Only one other one has come in a professional event.
“I think it’s around that number,” he said. “It’s bad that I can’t remember, but most of them have been in hit-and-giggle types of games with my buddies.
MORE OF THE SAME: What do TPC Summerlin, Sea Island Resort, the Country Club of Jackson, Kapalua and Waialae Country Club have in common?
Nothing. That should go to show you how well Robert Streb is playing right now.
“I guess if you’re playing good, you’re playing good,” said Streb, who took over the FedExCup lead with his win at the McGladrey Classic and has grabbed top 10s at all of the above-mentioned courses. He’s one back after a first-round 63.
Streb has made two starts at Waialae, but hasn’t finished better than T68. Thursday, he hit 10 of 14 fairways and only took 26 putts on the way to his lowest round since the Sunday 63 that gave him his first TOUR win at McGladrey.
TEENAGE DREAM: The most surprising thing to Kyle Suppa about playing on the PGA TOUR is how far the ball travels. At least today.
“I was expecting to be outdriven by a mile on every hole, but I was right there,” said the 16-year-old, who shot a bogey-free 69 in his PGA TOUR debut. “I think it was half adrenaline and half quick fairways. My irons seemed to be going 5 to 10 yards farther than usual.”
Suppa, who lives on the golf course and walked to Waialae this morning, can’t even guess how many times he’s played the course; he started teeing it up here with his father when he was seven. He’s a sophomore at Punahou High School, the same school that President Obama, Michelle Wie and NFL player Manti Te’o all graduated from.
After 18 holes, Suppa sits in a tie for 49th among the 142-man field.
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Too bad John Peterson didn’t get this in writing yesterday. He shot 65 Thursday.
Jason Day’s son, Dash, is already a social media star. Today he got some interview practice.
Click the image below to check out some of our favorite photos from Round 1 of the Sony Open in Hawaii.
CALL OF THE DAY
Fred Albers calls Paul Casey's closing birdie at No. 9 to post an 8-under par 62 at Sony Open in Hawaii. Live play-by-play coverage of Round 2 streams from 6-11 p.m. ET Friday on PGATOUR.COM.
ROUND 1 STAT LEADERS
Category Player Statistic Strokes gained: tee-to-green Yuta Ikeda 2.029 Driving distance Curtis Thompson 310.0 yards Driving accuracy Paul Goydos, John Peterson, Brian Stuard 85.71 percent Greens in regulation Jim Herman 94.44 percent Strokes gained: putting Webb Simpson 4.660 Putts per round Webb Simpson 23 Total birdies Paul Casey, Webb Simpson Nine
A pair of 62’s for Paul Casey and Webb Simpson at Sony Open