KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Webb Simpson wielding a short putter? Don’t expect to see it at this week’s PGA Championship. Simpson was practicing with the short stick during a month-long absence from the PGA Tour, though.
Simpson, the U.S. Open champion, is at the PGA Championship after four weeks away from competition as he and wife Dowd prepared for the birth of their daughter, Willow Grace Simpson, who was born July 28. It was the couple’s second child.
“I thought the second one wouldn’t be that emotional, and I was crying like a baby,” Simpson said. “It just reminds you that golf is golf; it’s not my life. I think more than anything, I’m showing up (to the PGA), I’m refreshed and not putting any pressure on myself.”
Simpson’s practice with the short putter has been a precautionary measure, in case the R&A and U.S. Golf Association decides to ban the anchoring stroke used with long or belly putters. He ordered two short putters about a month ago and has been using them while home in Charlotte, N.C.
His absence from competitive golf has allowed him to take a no-pressure approach to this week. Already having a major championship under his belt helps, as well.
“It’s just always different when you get out here around other players. . . . I’m not going to put any pressure on myself for tomorrow,” Simpson said. “I’m just trying to be patient this week because I know it might take a little time.”
Simpson has had success in this part of the country, winning the Azalea Invitational, a prestigious amateur event at the Country Club of Charleston, in 2004 and 2007. He also began playing golf at a Pete Dye design, Landfall Country Club in Wilmington, N.C.
Whether he’ll have success at a Dye design this week remains to be seen. But one thing seems certain: Simpson isn’t feeling much pressure on the eve of the year’s final major. That’s always a good thing.