Sony Open Player in Focus:Webb Simpson
Webb Simpson (pictured) is the only current major champion in the field for the Sony Open this week on the PGA Tour. The current US Open champion was scheduled to play in the final round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and then move across Hawaii to Honolulu to play in the Sony sponsored event.
Simpson won his first major championship last June in his national Open. Some may say this was a tournament that Jim Furyk lost but Simpson played the back nine in one under par. He was able to play his best golf when the pressure was at its most intense.
The US Open always produces a worthy winner because of the unique demands of the event. The USPGA philosophy states, “A US Open course should test all forms of shot making, mental tenacity, and physical endurance under conditions of extreme pressure found only at the highest levels of championship golf.”
Furyk was the best player for 69 holes but then faltered to allow Simpson to win the US Open. The champion got up and down from a difficult lie besides the 18th green and ultimately had the mental strength to set a clubhouse target that could not be reached.
After winning the Open Simpson reached a career high of number five in the world rankings, though he has since slipped to 11th in the latest standings. He played in the Ryder Cup but lost his singles match against Ian Poulter.
In the context of this week’s Sony Open Simpson has some decent course form to his name. The host course requires consistency in finding the greens in the correct number of shots and this is a common feature of all US Open course.
Simpson finished 32nd for greens in regulation last season and that skill more than offsets his average record for total and average putts. He uses a belly putter so it will be interesting to see how he adapts to new rules that will make anchoring the putter illegal.
It would probably be unwise to read too much into Simpson’s form at the Tournament of Champions. The event has been heavily disrupted by the weather but Simpson has put together two solid rounds of 72. He was too far back to catch Dustin Johnson ahead of the final round but will take some positives to the Sony Open.