|Webb Simpson leads all Tour players on the 2011 earnings list with $5.3 million in winnings. (Getty Images)|
NORTON, Mass. -- Webb Simpson still thinks more like Homer Simpson when he's conjuring up how he's supposed to act as he climbs up the ladder to what seems ordained to be PGA Tour stardom.
Already a bit overwhelmed by his sudden spot in the pantheon, Simpson -- with two wins in three weeks -- on Monday leaped to the top of the PGA Tour money list and FedEx Cup standings, and bounced to an impressive 14th in the world ranking.
So, after he survived a two-hole playoff to win the Deutsche Bank Championship with some of the most memorable work on the greens seen on tour in months, he said he wasn't sure how he was supposed to react as the acres of putts were falling.
"I thought before I putted, 'How am I going to react if this goes in, and then I told myself, you're an idiot, you're getting way too far ahead of yourself,'" Simpson laughed.
Simpson settled for a sort of an impromptu, inverted Tiger Woods move with his right fist, which his veteran caddie immediately noticed and pointed out, with great amusement.
|Deutsche Bank Championship|
"I like it," said
It certainly fit. On the greens at TPC Boston, Simpson looked like Thor, throwing down putts and tossing around thunderclaps to the point that he wore everybody down. He one-putted seven of his last eight holes, including the playoff with runner-up Chez Reavie.
The skinny North Carolinian recorded the fourth win in five weeks, including a major, by a guy wielding a belly or broom putter, though there's not much midsection there for Simpson to anchor it to, is there?
"I'm in a win-win situation, because the more weight I gain, the better the belly putter should feel," he said. "I try to stick it in there and it sometimes slides out. But I make sure to keep eating pizza once a week."
Just like that, he can a truck load of filet mignon if he so desires.
While everybody else was fading as Reavie played nearly perfect golf for 17½ holes, Simpson stayed in the ballgame with a series of pressure putts, starting at the 14th.
Using a belly and a cross-handed grip, Simpson steered in an 11-footer on the 14th, and an eight-footer on the next, both to salvage par. Though nobody knew at the time, he drained a 27-footer for birdie on the 18th for what seemed like solo second place. But when Reavie pulled a wedge into the rough and bogeyed the last to finish regulation tied with Simpson at 15-under, he kept applying the pressure.
Pouring it on by pouring them in.
Simpson birdied the first two holes of the playoff, too, including a 15-footer on the first extra hole, the 18th again, when Reavie had a three-footer. Simpson made 42 feet of birdie putts in his two cracks at the 18th alone.
When he finally dispatched Reavie with a nine-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole, Simpson tried to reflect on a season that few saw coming. He didn't lock up his PGA Tour card until his second-to-last event of 2010, in Las Vegas, and he finished 94th on the money list.
Roughly 10 months later, he leads the tour in earnings with $5.3 million, which is double his combined output from his first two seasons in the majors, jumped to first In FedEx Cup points, where he can claim a $10 million bonus, and became the first player since Hall of Famer Ernie Els early last season to win twice in a three-week span.
As for the party, that might need some refinement, too, or he's going to wreck the tour's living-large reputation. When Simpson won his first PGA Tour event three weeks ago in Greensboro, he and wife Dowd celebrated by having a delectable, one-course dinner at Wendy's.
He had only slightly different plans this time.
"Wendy's or McDonald's, probably," he said. "Got to keep it going, you know?"
We must have heard it wrong. Surely he intends to buy a fast-food outlet, if not an entire chain.
It's been a remarkable breakout season already. Simpson finished second at Tampa and lost in a playoff at New Orleans to Bubba Watson, after calling a penalty on himself when the ball moved almost imperceptibly just before he tapped in a short putt. In the final analysis, that shot made the difference.
"I don't want to say it was the right thing to do, it was the only thing to do," he said of the penalty.
Call it karma, kismet or divine intervention -- coupled with some pretty impressive play -- but he quickly crashed through. Ever since he missed the cut last month at the PGA Championship and made a putting adjustment, he's been nearly infallible. In between wins, he was T10 last week at The Barclays.
Tesori said missing the cut at the PGA was "the best thing that happened in our entire year." The pair worked hard on the practice green and the results are self-evident.
So, after hooking up with Tesori in the offseason, the twosome has been a pretty consistent thorn in the posteriors of other players. If not their wallets.
"I said since Day 1 that he has the best mind of any player I have ever worked for," Tesori said, "That includes Vijay, who is one of the 10 best players of all time."
If that's remotely true, we'd better get used to major doses of the former Wake Forest All-American, 26, who attended college on the prestigious Arnold Palmer scholarship. Consider who he outfoxed Monday -- world No. 1 Luke Donald, Watson and Adam Scott were among the six other players who held the lead at some point in a frenetic final round, but Simpson was the one who dropped the final hammer.
If you haven't had time to wrap your head around it the seas change of new faces on tour, led by 20-somethings guys like Simpson and
Neither has he.
"I don't really know what to tell you," Simpson laughed. "I'm not taking any illegal drugs or anything."
What about the rest? The way he was raking in putts and doing that spontaneous hammer fist drop afterward, everybody else will soon need an over-the-counter pain reliever, at minimum.