LA QUINTA, Calif. – When he stepped to the first tee at the Sony Open, Webb Simpson was so nervous that it felt like he was playing in the final group on Sunday.
Not exactly. It was his first PGA Tour start with the conventional putter.
Simpson had used a belly putter since his freshman year at Wake Forest, and done so with great success, winning the 2012 U.S. Open and three other titles. But he knew the anchoring ban was looming in 2016, and he didn’t want to be forced to adjust. So in December, before he left for the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, Simpson snapped his belly putter in half, so he wouldn’t be tempted to use it. The pieces are on top of a trophy case at home.
Simpson shot 64 that first day at the Sony and eventually finished in the top 15. In the final round here at the Humana Challenge, he shot a closing 64 to surge into the top 10. On Sunday, he needed only 22 swipes and sank over 120 feet of putts.
“I’m getting there,” he said. “I definitely believed that I could be a good putter, but it had been about 10 years since I used it, so there was tons of doubt.”
There are still some aspects that need to be tightened up, such as long putting and putting in the wind.
“It’s just building blocks,” Simpson said. “I told my caddie Paul (Tesori), if it took us six months or even two years, that I was going to put in the work.”