Aug
22
2011
Sweet Maiden Victory for Webb Simpson (and Third Straight for Long Putters!)
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Wow, you look like a million bucks!

When players are tactfully asked why they’ve blown a tournament or had so many close calls, they usually respond with something like, “I just have to keep putting myself in contention and giving myself a good shot to win — it’ll happen.” How cliche! Well, depending on your luck, it materializes sooner rather than later.

For Webb Simpson, it came true pretty quickly. (Maybe the golfing gods were looking out for him after they basically screwed him over in New Orleans a few months agothough it was for a good cause.)

Simpson has had several “almost-wins” this year, but it didn’t work out for one reason or another — he finished second at the Transitions Championship, lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson at the Zurich Classic, and contended at the AT&T National and the Greenbrier Classic. Finally, it was the Wake Forest grad’s week at the Wyndham Championship, the last regular PGA Tour event of the season (already?! — OK, I know they’re like 9 more events, not counting the Presidents Cup, etc., but feels like it was just the other week I was at Kapalua).

Simpson, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, captured his first PGA Tour victory by three shots, posting a final-round bogey-free 67 at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro. He pulled away from the field after making consecutive birdies on 15 and 16.

In related news, Simpson wields a belly putter — which to the horror of golf purists, makes this the third consecutive week that a long putter has seen the winner’s circle.

“It’s been 7 years now I’ve used the same putter and it seems like a lot more guys are using it,” said Simpson when asked about the growing long putter trend on Tour. “Keegan Bradley, being the first guy to win a Major with the belly putter is encouraging to us belly putter users.

“I think you’re seeing younger guys use it, more guys use it and I don’t know what it is for the other guys. For me I just like it better. I putt differently with it and I’ve never really found anything I like better.”

Simpson switched to the belly in the fall of his freshman year and hasn’t looked back.

As I said in Golf.com’s PGA Tour Confidential, I can’t wait to see how many players are flirting with the idea of switching it up.

Wei: I’ll be watching to see how many players tinker with a belly putter. First, Adam Scott won the Bridgestone with the broomstick putter. Then Keegan Bradley drained a bunch of clutch putts with a belly putter to capture the PGA Championship as a rookie and become the first player to win a major with a long putter. And now, Webb Simpson takes the Wyndham Championship with a belly, too.

Shipnuck: Yes, the disease is spreading. Seemed like everyone in contention at Greensboro had a long wand.

Godich: I went to a long putter a few months back, and though I have played little since, I absolutely love it. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Herre: You think we’ll see more belly putters on the local, amateur level? Personally, I could never get the feel for one, and traveling with the thing was a hassle.

Hack: It’s such a bad look, isn’t it? I’m waiting for someone to walk onto a practice green with a long putter anchored between his teeth. The USGA missed the boat on the long putters.

Wei: It was already bad after the Masters. When I showed up to the practice green at Hilton Head two weeks later, I couldn’t believe how many guys were messing around with a belly. Ernie finally put aside his ego and switched. Bill Haas and Camilo Villegas both used one that week for the first time. I can’t wait to see how many there are at Plainfield!

Get ready putting reps, you’re in for a busy week! Well, actually, that depends on what the greens are like at Plainfield and I’ve never seen the course, but if they’re super undulated, then we probably won’t see major belly fever.

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)