Simpson hopes he's rediscovering top form

Webb Simpson with his family after he was awarded the Payne Stewart Salver Award during the 2013 Tavistock Cup at Isleworth Country Club.

Webb Simpson with his family after he was awarded the Payne Stewart Salver Award during the 2013 Tavistock Cup at Isleworth Country Club.

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WINDERMERE, Fla. – It’s been a while since Webb Simpson has been atop a leaderboard at the end of a tournament.

Simpson, who hasn’t won since his victory at the 2012 U.S. Open, shot 2-under 70 at Isleworth Golf & Country Club to post the low individual round Tuesday at the Tavistock Cup. The Team Primland member finished a shot ahead of Lake Nona’s Graeme McDowell, who was the only other player under par in windy conditions.

Sure, it wasn’t an official event, but for Simpson, it was a confidence booster coming off rounds of 80-73 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and an opportunity to work on his game heading into the Masters.

“It feels good, man,” Simpson said. “I missed the cut last week (at Bay Hill), and I knew I wasn’t that far off. I had some work to do and worked on it this weekend. I played great yesterday (in best-ball) and played great today, and I think it’s going to give me confidence knowing that we’re working on the right stuff. Hopefully that will carry into Augusta.”

Simpson said he worked mainly on fundamentals – specifically making sure that he gets through the ball.

“Last week at Bay Hill, I was hanging back on my right side a little bit,” Simpson said. “To be able to see it (the changes) work under pressure was a great feeling.”

Simpson has endured his share of disappointments since his first major victory. He finished 2012 with just two top 10s after his triumph at The Olympic Club. He ranks outside the top 100 in driving accuracy and driving distance in 2013, and he has dropped from second in birdie average in 2012 to No. 52 this season. And then there was Bay Hill.

But he also has played well at times this season, including making a quarterfinal appearance at the WGC-Accenture Match Play and finishing T-6 at the Northern Trust Open. He missed only two cuts in nine events this year, too.

Now, he heads into Augusta feeling good about his swing. He hit it well off the tee, made some good iron shots, and aside from a short miss for par at No. 18, he putted well – and all in gusty conditions at a tough Isleworth track.

It’s amazing how much can change in a matter of days, but for Simpson, he’s hoping his strong play the last two days at Tavistock, and not the poor play at Bay Hill, shows up at Augusta next month.

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