New putter, Kuchar grip propel Simpson to 65


FORT WORTH, Texas – The Dean & DeLuca Invitational typically isn’t a part of Webb Simpson’s schedule. But after an unexpected break earlier this month, Simpson is glad he made the trek to Fort Worth.

Simpson withdrew from The Players Championship when his wife, Dowd, went into labor early. She gave birth to the couple’s fourth child, Mercy, on May 10. Simpson normally takes a couple weeks off after TPC Sawgrass, but he decided to get back to work this week at Colonial Country Club, where he hasn’t played since he missed cuts in 2009 and 2010.

It was a decision partially motivated by the timing of the birth, but also because Simpson is in need of some form. He hasn’t had a top-10 finish since the Wyndham Championship in August, and he’s currently 146th in the FedEx Cup standings.

“I need to play. I need to get in a rhythm,” Simpson said. “I was hurting in February and March, so I figured I’d try to start playing a lot more and see if I can get back in a good rhythm.”

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That effort got off to an ideal start Thursday, as Simpson battled swirling winds to post a 5-under 65. It left him one shot behind Bryce Molder and served as the best score of the afternoon wave.

“It was one of those days where kind of everything clicked,” he said. “It’s been quite a long time since everything has worked together in one round, so it feels nice.”

Part of Simpson’s turnaround came on the greens, where he is using a new putter this week. It’s a belly-length putter, but to conform with the anchoring ban Simpson is resting the shaft along the inside of his left forearm, a grip made popular by Matt Kuchar.

Simpson had putted with it recreationally, but this is the first time he’s used it in competition. It marks his first use of a belly-length putter since 2014, and it immediately paid off as he took only 27 putts.

“I’ve been messing around with it for a while,” he said. “I was still way more inconsistent than I want to be, and it felt better than the last time I tried it. Rolled a few with it the first day and felt pretty good, and just kind of stuck with it.”