CROMWELL, CONN. (AP) - Webb Simpson says it never crossed his mind to take the week off after winning the U.S. Open.
Simpson took a red-eye flight home to North Carolina from California on Sunday night and was in Connecticut on Wednesday preparing for the Travelers Championship.
It’s a tournament he says he feels loyal to after receiving a sponsor exemption in 2008.
“I love coming to this town, and I think it’s actually going to be good for me to get back in the ropes and play this week,” Simpson told the larger-than-normal media contingent at TPC River Highlands.
“It’s a great week for me to kind of unwind from the U. S. Open, but be able to kind of put my focus elsewhere and kind of get away from just reflecting and thinking about it and trying to put my focus on trying to win this golf tournament.”
Simpson said his hands have just begun to stop shaking after winning his first major championship.
Since then, he’s received calls, emails and text messages from the likes of Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Greg Norman and Hale Irwin, all giving him advice on how to handle his new-found role as a major champion.
“I even talked with Zach Johnson yesterday for a few minutes just about what advice he could give me after what he went through winning the Masters,” Simpson said. “And I’m a guy, I like to learn. And I have no clue really what I’m doing or what to expect, so I’m going to reach out, hopefully, and get some advice from the guys who have won a major and just see what to do and what not to do after.”
Simpson will have a chance to do a little of that Thursday. His first-round playing partners will be Masters winner Bubba Watson and reigning PGA champion Keegan Bradley.
“We’re good friends, and we were partners in the Presidents Cup,” Watson said. “He texted me and asked what was going to be different, and I just told him, I said, `You’re going to have more fans. You’re going to have more people wanting you to sign, and your agent’s going to have more things for you to do. You’re just going to have to be able to say no.’”
Simpson said playing with Watson and Bradley also will give him a chance to get back at Bradley’s caddie, Steven “Pepsi” Hale, who he suspects put a pair of bananas in his golf shoes at the U.S. Open on Sunday.
“I washed them and the smell is still in there,” he said. “So I’m going to get him back with something. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m going to get him back.”
Fredrik Jacobson, the winner last year for his first victory on the PGA Tour, said players enjoy the tournament in part because of the loose atmosphere that surrounds playing the week after a major.
It’s a chance, he said, to decompress.
“Especially for, you know, for the guys that had been somewhat in contention the week before,” he said. ” It’s a lot of, you know, things going on around the course and on the course and shouting, screaming, yelling, people walking around. It’s such a busy week and intense week that when you do come back to a regular tour event the week after, it kind of settles down a little bit.”
The Travelers will mark the professional debut of 20-year-old Patrick Cantlay, who a year ago shot 60 as an amateur in the second round of the tournament, the lowest score ever by an amateur at a PGA Tour event.
“I think this timing makes sense for me, being able to start somewhere where I’m comfortable and I have good memories,” the former UCLA star said. “And I feel ready and comfortable with being a pro and trying to be as good as I can be.”
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