Simpson builds on year with plenty of positives

Webb Simpson during the 2014 WGC-Accenture Match Play at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Mind games are in play every week on the PGA Tour, probably every minute. A player goes through a bad patch and he has a mental decision to make. In rudimentary terms, it pretty much comes down to half full or half empty, positive attitude or negative one. Like happiness, it’s a choice.

So it goes for Webb Simpson these days. The 2012 U.S. Open champion is in a bit of a slump. In a departure from the norm, he has missed two cuts (including at the Masters) and finished no better than 47th in his last four PGA Tour appearances. You have to go back to Week 1 on the 2014 calendar to find him better than 10th place.

So it was no surprise Tuesday to hear the Charlotte resident start a sentence with, “As bad as I feel like I’ve played the last month and a half ...” But Simpson, speaking at a pre-Wells Fargo Championship news conference, then reversed direction and poured all kinds of positive spin on his unfavorable short window.

As he should. If he’s not going to believe, who is?

He pointed out that caddie Paul Tesori texted him the other day that Simpson ranks 11th in Tour earnings and FedEx Cup points. It’s true. Simpson put himself in such a good position by taking advantage of the new wraparound season of 2013-14 by excelling last fall and winter. In his first three starts, he won in Las Vegas and tied for seventh at the McGladrey Classic last fall and tied for third at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January.

“The good thing and positive that I’m taking away is, though I played really poorly in the last six or seven weeks, I’m still in 11th,” Simpson said here at Quail Hollow Club. “I always try to look for the positives.”

As he should ...

The slide coincides with some tinkering. In the last couple of months, he changed irons, went from a 58- to 60-degree lob wedge to get more loft on chips and changed driver shafts. Still, the man with the killer short game reckons he hit the irons “great” but putted poorly in those last three tournaments.

So it gets back to self-belief. And to the kind of strong putting with which he started 2013-14.

“I’ve got tell myself all the time – it’s a game that you go in waves,” Simpson said. He would add that even a superstar such as Tiger Woods goes through “low slumps.”

“All that is to say, I’m not too worried,” the four-time Tour winner said. “I never get too down. It gets frustrating, but it’s nice to (have) opportunities every week to start playing good again.”

These are two big weeks for him and many others – the Wells Fargo being followed by The Players. Then he’ll mix in a couple of trips to U.S. Open site Pinehurst, which he would visit regularly with his parents as a kid.

First things first, though: A home home game. Simpson not only lives here, but he’s a member at Quail Hollow. All things considered, it’s a good time for the Wells Fargo.

“There is a comfort here,” said Simpson, who finished fourth here in 2012 after he stopped putting too much pressure on himself. “There’s familiarity here that, before I even tee it up, I think helps me.”

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