By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — When Webb Simpson arrived at the 10th tee Sunday at The Old White TPC, he had a one-shot lead.
If the story sounds familiar, it should because Simpson was in the exact same situation a year ago at The Greenbrier Classic. The result was almost the same, too.
Simpson bogeyed four of five holes and shot 40 on the back nine to tumble out of contention and eventually into a tie for seventh, five shots back of eventual winner Ted Potter Jr.
“I don’t know,” said Simpson, who at one point had gone 59 straight holes without a bogey this week. “It’s just the nature of the game. You go from not making any mistakes all week to making them all on the back 9.”
The first one came inexplicably on the par-5 12th, where Simpson left his second shot short of the green, then ran his pitch shot 40 feet by the hole before three-putting.
The next shot he hit landed in a hazard left of the 13th fairway.
On the 14th, his fate was sealed when he failed to get up-and-down from the back of the green, missing a 6-footer to save par after getting relief from a tower next to the green.
Simpson’s final blow came on the par-4 16th, where he again missed a short par putt, this time from 4 feet. Not that it mattered at that point.
“I kind of made a couple bad swings and judged the wind wrong a bunch of times it seemed like,” said Simpson, who hit just eight fairways and eight greens on Sunday. He also took 29 putts. “It was just one of those unfortunate nine holes where all week everything had been going right and in nine holes everything couldn’t have gone worse.”
Simpson will have plenty of time to digest what went wrong.
He is skipping the British Open because his wife is due with the couple’s second child in a couple of weeks. His next start won’t likely come until the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at the beginning of August.
“It’s one of those things where I’m going to take the positives from this week and the things that let me down today,” Simpson said. “I’ll take a look at that and try to go out and work on it. Every situation I’ve been in like this where I’ve had a tough Sunday or a tough finish, I’ve been able to learn from it and it’s helped me down the road.”
After losing in similar fashion here a year ago when he bogeyed three of his first seven holes on the back nine, Simpson got his first career victory a month later. Since then, no one on the PGA TOUR has had more wins or more top 10s than Simpson.