Q&A: Webb Simpson, 2012 U.S. Open champion

Webb Simpson, the defending U.S. Open champion, revealed how he switched gear before he won his first major – and says he's not afraid to give up anchored putting.

ARDMORE, Pa. -- Contrary to speculation that he might be fretting about the governing bodies' recent decision to ban the anchored stroke, Webb Simpson is not.

The 2012 U.S. Open champion has been using the same Ping Craz-E belly putter since he was a junior in high school. But two weeks before the ban was announced, he told Golfweek: "You know, I'm really comfortable with the short putter. The only reason why I haven't switched is I don't care to bring a whole lot of attention to it now."

That doesn't mean that the former Wake Forest All-American is happy about the decision. Simpson was an outspoken defender of anchored putting.

Simpson is prepared to make changes, but they'll come later. "I'm going to keep going with what I know and with what's helped me so far."

In an exclusive interview with Golfweek senior equipment writer David Dusek, Simpson shares his thoughts on other equipment topics and his preparation for this week's U.S. Open.

• • •

Q. Before last season's U.S. Open, you put a new set of Titleist 712 AP2 irons into play, but then in San Francisco you switched back to your old Titleist 680MB irons. Then, after winning a major, you switched back to the AP2s. What happened?

A. I had played the 680s since I was a junior in high school, which would be 2003, so after the U.S. Open I wanted to go back to the 712 AP2s because I felt like they were going to be a better club in the grand scheme of things.

You know, [the AP2s] were going to go farther, especially the mis-hits, and they're still forged so they have a lot of feel. I tried to switch to them at Memorial [two weeks before the U.S. Open], but I wasn't swinging it well. That added to my lack of confidence in them. So I just went back to what I trusted before a major.

Then I hit the 680s great, obviously, so this off season I went back to the AP2s, changed the settings a little bit on them and made them a little more upright. I got to point where I was like, 'Man, the mis-hits really do go farther.'

Week in and week out, we're not going to flush it every time. We're not perfect, so it's worth it. So, I've stuck with them ever since.

• • •

Q. So really, you won the U.S. Open using irons that you were more familiar with, not necessarily with a set of irons that you knew, week to week, would probably be better for you.

A. Correct. It really came down to knowing the 680s so well and not wanting to think about something else that week.

• • •

Q. But you did change drivers at Olympic, sort of.

A. I switched drivers on Wednesday afternoon actually. I wasn't driving it that great, and I always travel with a back-up driver when I go to golf a tournament. It's exactly the same as my gamer. Well, I pulled the back-up out and started hitting it and it felt really good, so I put it in play and kept it in until the off season.

• • •

Q. Since winning the U.S. Open with your back-up 909D3, you went up two generations in your driver and you're now using a 913D3. Even with tour vans following you every week, is finding the perfect driver a challenge?

A. Not really, but I told the guys at Titleist, 'It's your fault.' They asked me what I meant, and I told them, 'You made such a good club for me, the 909D3, that I can't get away from it.'

But, seriously, a couple of the guys came to Charlotte to help me get fit for the 913D3, Chris Tuten [Titleist's director of player promotions] was there and Fordie Pitts [Titleist's tour consultant for golf ball research and development] was also there to help me with some golf balls. With the new driver I feel like I'm hitting it just as straight, but farther, so why not make the switch? And, I like the look better.

• • •

Q. But after you won the toughest tournament in golf, the U.S. Open, wasn't there a temptation to not touch anything in your bag? I mean, why switch away from clubs that helped you win a major?

A. I don't really like to change a lot, but if I know that the changes could make me better and help me, then I'm open to it. But, I think I'm one of the guys that would probably give them a hard time during the transition because they've got to prove it to me. I believe all of my stuff is already so good, so if they've really improved upon something, then I want to see it.

• • •

Q. Do you spin the ball a lot?

A. I'd say I'm an average spinner.

• • •

Q. I ask because your hybrid is a Titleist 913H.d, which is designed to flight the ball lower and spin a little less. How do you blend all of your woods and hybrids together?

A. Really, I'm concerned more with trajectory than the gaps. I'd rather have a club that is spinny than hot. For example, with that hybrid I can hit it high and I can hit it low. Hitting it low means you can hit it without much spin, but if you can hit it high, too, that means you get enough spin. It's a balance, and that's hard to find. That's why you've got to flirt around with different shafts.

• • •

Q. For the U.S. Open, have you been testing anything new like a 712U utility iron – or considering making any adjustments in your bag setup specifically for Merion?

A. No, I don't think so. I'm going to work a little bit with a 712U but I don't see myself making any changes.

I think there's definitely going to be five or six holes where it's going to be a 3-iron or a 2-iron off the tee, so it's an advantage for the guys who have played it to know what to expect. I mean, there are a couple of holes where you could go 4-iron, 7-iron. My goal, on holes like that, is to look at it and find the widest part of the fairway, then hit it to there.

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