The impulsive father of five said to the main hero 15 times: “Tiger, I have to call you again.”
When he did, Simpson received some unexpected – and welcome – news. Woods told him he would be co-captain at the Presidents Cup in September at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, where Simpson makes his home.
“It meant a lot, but honestly, I’m done with the phone call and I’m in love with it, I don’t know if it’s official,” Simpson said. “I don’t know if he meant like him rooting For me to be an assistant or if you A.m assistant.”
After all, Davis Love III is the captain, not Woods, and it wasn’t Love who made the call. But he did talk to Simpson at last—yes, “Tiger poured the beans,” Love later said with a smile—and Simpson couldn’t be happier to join Zack Johnson, Steve Stricker, and Fred Coples on the cast.
Simpson has played in three Chiefs Cups and three Ryder’s Cups, and has always had that trophy on his calendar. He lives next to Quail Hollow’s seventh tee — he joked Tuesday that maybe someone could leave a hole in the fence so they can drive their buggy home every night — and is a North Carolina native. This will be the first Presidents Cup to be played in his state.
The problem is that Simpson is ranked 29th in the US tag team standings, so the chances of him being selected are relatively slim, save for two wins in the next four weeks.
“Not that I was afraid I wouldn’t be a part of it, but there was a part of me that was like, ‘If I don’t make the team and Davis goes in a different direction, that’s fine, but it’s going to be hard to see the heads up there and not be part of it in a way,” Simpson said. What”.
“So, I was really relieved to get the chance to be a part of it.”
Love, who was a two-time Ryder Cup captain and was Simpson’s favorite, said the goal is to add new players to the mix as a potential captain for all US teams in the future. At last year’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, Matt Kuchar filled the role.
“We said at those Ryder Cup meetings…(that) instead of Davis bringing his four friends and hanging around for a week, we’d have two ex-captains and two future captains here for the assistants,” Love said. “We’ve set some kind of benchmark. So we’re letting that extend to the President’s Cup as well.
“It’s like basketball for Team USA,” he continued. “We will not only appear as a group of superstars and just shoot the ball around. We will have a year-round program to prepare to play the international competition.”
Love said he definitely sees the 37-year-old Simpson as a future leader. He doesn’t know if he’ll lead a US team into the Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup “but it has to be in order.” Love explained that he is a natural leader and has a servant heart.
When he took command of the 2012 Ryder Cup, Love remembers watching Simpson with great interest. He and Bubba Watson participated three times, winning two of those matches, but after each one, the two guys and their bags would gather on the green lawn and pray.
“He’s always the leader or the calming influence, or the guy who does the right thing at the right time,” Love said. “And we were standing on the side of the green and just looking, we don’t have to tell him what to do. He’s a Ryder Cup rookie but he’s a captain. So that affects not just his cans but the players around him. Everyone sits back and looks, Holy cow, this guy is different.
“It’s always been that way, but that was when it really hit me,” he added. “The things he does just for people, you know? I said, ‘That’s perfect for you because you love to serve. No matter what you want to do for others. He’s passionate about golfing and he’s excited about Charlotte, but he’s excited to give back.’”
Simpson, who has said he plans to be a sponge during matches at Quail Hollow, hasn’t given up on the idea of putting together an international team — perhaps even this year, in case he gets in the heat over the next four weeks. But as he approaches his 37th birthday on Monday, he knows his chances are limited.
Over the past three years, Simpson has worked hard to add height, and feels his 2020 wins at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and RBC Heritage were a byproduct of those efforts. But there were also some bad swinging habits that were really evident this year as he took only one top-10 spot, a T8 at the RSM Classic, at 18 starting to head into the Wyndham Championship this week.
“So I feel like the last four or five months we’ve been playing catch-up, trying to neutralize everything,” Simpson said. “We pulled a lot of videos from 17, 18, 19 before I started getting longer. The good news is I kept the distance, but started hitting more lanes.”
He said his confidence held fast, despite the lackluster results that saw him rank 117th on the FedExCup eligibility list. (He’s never finished below 87 and made the playoffs 13 seasons in a row.) And more good news, he’s loving this week’s TOUR station, Wyndham’s Sedgefield Country Club Championship, having scored one win, and four times in the top three and nine. Top 10 starts at 12 there.
“I believe in myself,” Simpson said. “I have to be a little smarter, I have to think a little better. And this golf course, although the results are good every year, it’s a golf course where you can’t make mistakes, otherwise it’s a heavy penalty. It’s a tough situation this year, so I’m looking forward to it.” To this challenge. I just have to put an end to my mistakes. The last few weeks I’ve been saying I just want to get to Memphis, I want to do the playoffs. I haven’t been in this situation in a while where I needed to do the push.”
The only thing he doesn’t have to worry about is whether this push will be enough to push him to Team Love who will defend their title at Quail Hollow. Simpson is already enjoying the game on his turf as only the locals can, and it’s nice to know he’s going to be there somehow.