MEDINAH, Ill. — Webb Simpson has played for the United States in the Palmer Cup, the Walker Cup and the Presidents Cup.
When Simpson tees it up Friday in the Ryder Cup for the first time, he will fall back on his experiences in those events and do his best to simplify the pressure-soaked situation.
Just tell yourself the truth, its just golf. As big as everybody wants to make it, its just golf, said Simpson, the U.S. Open champion.
Its the not the end all, be all. Its not the end of the world. Whether we win or lose, all of us are really lucky to do what we do. I just tell myself the facts. I dont go out there and say whats going to happen if I lose? Its going to be awful. Its more Im blessed to be on this team and whatever happens happens.
But it is the Ryder Cup.
Two years ago, Rory McIlroy approached his first Ryder Cup as an exhibition only to be swept up by the unmatched emotion that comes when Europe and the United States square off every two years. Now McIlroy relishes the Ryder Cup and all that comes with it.
Jim Furyk told me everything is exaggerated a little more, Simpson said. Youre going to be a little more tired. Youre going to be a little more upset. Youre going to be a little more excited. All those things you feel at a Presidents Cup, Im going to expect to feel those same feelings but just a little bit more.
Its already begun. Simpson, a Raleigh native, said when he saw 10,000 fans around the first hole when he began a Tuesday practice round, he felt the difference.
You dont really get butterflies in practice rounds but it was a different story Tuesday, Simpson said.
He worked to isolate his Ryder Cup excitement during the FedEx Cup playoffs, focusing on the four playoff events, knowing the Medinah matches were at the end. His caddie, Paul Tesori, has caddied in six Presidents Cups but, like Simpson, is a Ryder Cup rookie.
Tesori said he awoke last Saturday morning in Atlanta feeling the Ryder Cup adrenalin for the first time. It will be his role to keep Simpson focused in his matches, a role Tesori has mastered as Simpsons status on golfs world stage has grown.
Hes going to be nervous, no doubt about it. Were going to work on that rhythm on the range before we go out the first match, Tesori said.
After sitting out Fridays morning foursomes matches, Simpson is likely to play an afternoon four-ball match, probably with Bubba Watson, who will also sit out the morning session. When captain Davis Love III told Simpson and Watson they would not play in the morning matches, he surprised himself.
It was surreal to go ask those two guys not to play right off the bat in the Ryder Cup, Love said.
The Simpson-Watson pairing worked wonders at the Presidents Cup in Australia. They went out first each day in team play and posted a 3-0 record to get the American side started, ultimately going 3-1 together.
Its an odd combination on the surface, Simpson paired with the longest hitter in the game. Simpson plays more conservatively, considering the angles, while Watson relies on his pure power and imagination.
Together, the Simpson-Watson pairing works.
They talk more about their faith than anything else. Its a constant talk, Tesori said.
Plus, Bubba is a nerd. Hes a goofball. Webb is too. A lot of people dont know that.
Still, Simpson finds Watson a unique personality.
Im still trying to figure him out, Simpson said. His approach to the game is very laid back and then when he has 30 seconds to hit a shot, he has to be serious.
You put (us) together where Im a little more serious, he kind of relaxes me and I kind of help him focus on golf and draw him back to what we need to be looking at.
This week, Simpson is one of 12 Americans charged with regaining the Ryder Cup, another major moment in his blossoming career.
More than anything you just have to go play golf, Simpson said. Were all great golfers. Were individuals. You cant change a whole lot when you get a partner. You still have to play great golf, hit good shots, make good putts.