Before Davis Love III even called him up, Webb Simpson knew he was going to be named an assistant Presidents Cup captain – or so he thought.
He can thank Tiger Woods for that.
As Simpson tells it, he was out for a meal last Tuesday in Wilmington, North Carolina, with his family at their favorite hot-dog joint, Trolley Stop. Admittedly, Simpson was a bit stressed; his kids were annoying the restaurant’s owner by continually opening the door, and in addition to corralling them, Simpson also had to order.
Adding to the bustle: Simpson’s phone started ringing.
“I looked down and it's Tiger,” Simpson recalled Tuesday at the Wyndham Championship. “I told Tiger I had to call him back, I got to order my hot dogs. So, order my hot dogs, get out of there, call him back and yeah, he just kind of referenced me living in Charlotte, [this year’s President Cup venue] Quail Hollow's my home, that he thought it would bring a lot to the team.
“It meant a lot, but honestly, I got done with the phone call and I'm like, I don't know if that was official or not. I don't know if he meant like he's rooting for me to be assistant or if I am assistant.”
The next day in Detroit, Simpson ran into Zach Johnson, already one of Captain Love’s assistants, and confirmed what Woods had shared. They had a laugh about the story of Woods spoiling the surprise, and the following night Love finally delivered the official word, welcoming Simpson to the U.S. team (Steve Stricker was named along with Simpson).
For Simpson, it was an honor to accept the job. He had been thinking about this year’s matches at Quail Hollow for so long, he said, and with just one top-10 since last year’s Wyndham, his chances of making the 12-man squad as a player were slim to none.
“Not that I feared not being a part of it, but there was a part of me that's like, if I don't make the team and Davis goes a different direction, that's fine, but it's going to be hard to see the Presidents Cup happen there and not be a part of it in some way,” Simpson said. “So, I was really, really relieved to get a chance to be a part of it.”
The 36-year-old Simpson, who has played on three Ryder and Presidents cups apiece, also told a story from his U.S. team debut at the 2011 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne, where captain Jim Furyk shared with him some wisdom: “When you're done with your golf career, you're going to really look back and remember your wins and your team events.”
“So far,” Simpson continued, “those are the best memories I've made in the game are the three Ryder Cups and President Cups. So, I'm super excited to be alongside Davis, Zach, Strick and Freddie [Couples]. … I know those guys well, been around them for a long time. I don't feel that much older than the guys who are going to be on the team because I've played with them for so long now, but I guess to some of them, like Scottie [Scheffler], I'm a lot older than.”
Simpson begins this week’s regular-season finale in Greensboro, North Carolina, sitting No. 117 in FedExCup points. He’s likely in next week’s playoff opener in Memphis, but with only the top 70 advancing to the BMW Championship, Simpson may have plenty of time to prepare.
Then again, Simpson could rattle off a couple of wins and shock the world by making it to East Lake and potentially forcing Love’s hand for a captain’s pick.
“I'm excited for that captain's phone call to see who we should pick,” Simpson said. “If I'm even in the running it could be funny/awkward if I nominated myself for a pick, so we'll see.”