From the time he teed-off the 2014 Ryder Cup on Friday morning to the final hole in Sunday's singles play, the bright spots were few and far-between for Raleigh-native Webb Simpson this weekend at Gleneagles.
The 2012 U.S. Open winner played in only two of five possible matches during the weekend, losing with American teammate Bubba Watson 5 and 4 in Friday's four-ball competition, and managing a half-point singles tie Sunday against Europe's Ian Poulter. Simpson's half-point was part of only 11 1/2 points for the Americans, who never threatened the favored Europeans in a 5-point Ryder Cup loss.
"It stings that we lost again, but Europe played great all week," Simpson told the News & Observer Sunday on the 18th green.
Simpson's misfortune started on the first tee box Friday, prior to his first shot. Mistaken for teammate Bubba Watson, Simpson was introduced as his playing partner by legendary European announcer Ivor Robson. The mistake caused both team members to double-take before Simpson stepped up to his ball.
"I noticed he said Bubba Watson," Simpson said with a laugh, "And I glanced over at Bubba like, 'Well, maybe you're supposed to hit first then.'"
Using a fairway wood, Simpson sent his tee shot, the first shot of the Ryder Cup, sky high. When it landed, less than 200 yards from the tee box, it had barely reached the 429-yard par-4 first hole's fairway.
"He just popped it up," Watson told the News & Observer. "I was a little shocked when I first saw it, but I guess that happens sometimes."
After a 5 and 4 morning four-ball loss to Europe's Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, Simpson was one of four Americans left out of Friday afternoon's foursomes competition. On Saturday, the 29-year-old Wake Forest alum didn't play at all.
"I didn't think Webb played very well Friday, and I thought we had other guys in better position to get points for us," U.S. captain Tom Watson said.
Simpson was excluded from both the Saturday morning four-ball and afternoon foursome rounds, and didn't have a shot at redemption until Sunday's singles.
Slotted ninth in the Americans' 12-man singles lineup, Simpson faced Europe's Ian Poulter - a Ryder Cup legend who defeated the Raleigh native in Europe's infamous 2012 Miracle at Medinah Ryder Cup comeback.
"I was really excited to get that pairing," Simpson said. "He got me the first time we played."
Sunday's round started off ugly for both Simpson and Poulter - the two were 2-over and 3-over par respectively after five holes, with Simpson ahead 1-up.
"It was tough to get momentum going after sitting three matches in a row," Simpson said of his rough start.
Poulter responded with birdies on the seventh, eighth and ninth holes to lead 2-up at the turn. But Simpson nailed a lengthy 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 10th hole for birdie, swinging the momentum of the match in his favor.
"My game finally came around, and I was thankful to make some birdies," he said.
With birdies at 13, 14 and 16, Simpson pulled the match back to all square. A two-putt par at the par-3 17th earned Simpson a 1-up lead after Poulter found the greenside bunker off the tee and bogeyed the hole.
With a chance to win the match at the par-5 18th, Simpson was on in three, but his 15-foot birdie putt went right of the cup. Poulter, on in two, sent an eagle putt close enough to earn a conceded birdie and halve the match.
"I'm happy to at least get a half out of it when I was two down with a few to play," Simpson said. "I think once Europe clinched it, my desire to beat him faded a little bit, because our match essentially didn't matter."
Going forward, Simpson says he hopes to play in future Ryder Cups, but for now is thinking only of getting some rest.
"I got a couple weeks off before Vegas," Simpson said, referring to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open from Oct. 15-19, an event he won in 2013. "And then my real offseason will come in November and December."