Nov 15, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Webb Simpson spends most of his time traveling the world as a professional golfer, but his roots are in Raleigh, and he made time to give back Wednesday to a nonprofit foundation that helps at-risk youth in southeast Raleigh.
Fittingly enough, Simpson took to the golf course at Raleigh Country Club Wednesday, joining fellow PGA professional (and NC State grad) Carl Pettersson and other local golfers to participate in the annual "Neighbor to Neighbor Golf Classic." This year the Classic is raising funds for a land purchase near the southeast Raleigh youth center.
Simpson talked about the charity's beginnings with WRAL-TV sports anchor Jeff Gravley Tuesday, saying the grassroots effort, which started in a public housing unit in 1994, was always meant to help children learn and grow in a structured, faith-based environment.
"I grew up 10 minutes from here. My high school is five minutes from here, so I know the area," Simpson said. "Quite frankly, growing up I didn't know there were that many bad parts in Raleigh. It makes me excited that I get to play a small part in what they are doing and be involved in something that is in my hometown."
Despite living in Charlotte and being on the road as many as 30 weeks a year, Simpson said his sister Blake – who works full-time with Neighbor to Neighbor – keeps him connected with what is happening down the street from his childhood home.
"It gives me such a great perspective any time I hear stories from Blake about what Neighbor to Neighbor is doing and how they are impacting people," he said.
Simpson said having children of his own has also added to his understanding of what is important for struggling families and stoked his desire to help parents provide.
"You hear some of these stories about some of these parents who just don't have the fiscal means," he said. "They want to as bad as I want to provide for my son. They want to, but they can't."
Wrapping up a 'dream' year
Professionally, the Broughton High School alum is on the tail end of a year he won't soon forget. Simpson captured the U.S. Open title in June with a weekend push at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, tallied more than $3.4 million in earnings and finished the season ranked 17th in the world.
"My motto is I continue to get better," he said. "It certainly was a more up-and-down year compared to 2011, but the birth of our second child and winning the U.S. Open, I couldn't have dreamed it any better, to be honest."
Simpson also represented the United States in the Ryder Cup, pairing with Bubba Watson to secure points on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning in some of the more memorable golf matches of the entire event.
With a smile, Simpson credited Watson for the memories, pointing specifically to his antics with the unusually loud crowds that packed Medinah Country Club in Illinois.
"There is no better atmosphere in golf," he said. "It was more fun than I can ever imagine having. Unfortunately we lost, but it didn't take away how special the week was for me."