Jun 18, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson was calm, collected and quiet as he made a run to the title Sunday. He was equally as tranquil as he and his wife watched Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell finish out their rounds, clinching the first major for one of the Tour's most under-recognized stars.
But there's more to Simpson than the even-keeled demeanor he displays on TV.
Simpson’s first collegiate win came at the Golf Club of Georgia. That weekend, the seemingly reserved and responsible Raleigh native stood out to his teammates and coaches for something other than his play.
The well-decorated Demon Deacon had forgotten a change of socks on the road trip. For three rounds, Simpson – who always wore white socks – slipped on the same pair.
By the time the team loaded in the bus to head back north, Simpson was armed with offensively odorous socks that he dangled about for the five-hour ride. Head coach Jerry Haas admittedly egged on the act, serving as a sarcastic disciplinarian.
Haas said that Simpson has more personality than he gets credit for. He also said that his former pupil has a head for the game of golf that is unique and required in order to be a champion.
“He’s a winner. He learned to win as an amateur and in college,” Haas said. “I would say that some people, when they get in those moments, they speed up in their mind and in the process. In the case of Webb, it just becomes very calm to him. He’s a very calm person. He’s a professional golfer so he’s going to hit a lot of good shots, but the thing that separates you as a winner or a guy that doesn’t win, is what you do when you don’t hit your best shots.”
Haas said he spent much of Sunday night and Monday morning reminiscing with friends about stories of Simpson - including the one that joined the two.
Haas recalled recruiting Simpson out of high school where he was a state champion at Broughton. The decision came down to Wake Forest or Georgia Tech and Haas, in an attempt to take financial issues out of the equation, offered up the Arnold Palmer Scholarship.
Simpson called Haas at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning and put a scare into the coach, telling him he should probably sit down for what he was about to say. Simpson accepted.
Haas joked that his biggest contribution to Simpson was showing up with him in the van for four years at Wake Forest but was honest in saying that the 26-year-old is "just an all-around good guy.”
“I’m very proud of him,” Haas said. “He handled himself beautifully. He had that look on the back side there that he was going to win."
Simpson got praise from North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue Monday as well. In a statement she said, “Today we celebrate our very own, Webb Simpson, for winning the U.S. Open on Sunday. This is a tremendous accomplishment and a big step forward in an already-impressive golf career. Webb is a North Carolinian through-and-through… North Carolina is truly proud of his accomplishment and all of his success. Webb has a bright future ahead of him, and I look forward to supporting his journey in golf.”
You can listen to the full interview with Wake Forest head golf coach Jerry Haas talking about U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson on Mark and Mike on 620 The Buzz at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.