Former U.S. Open champ heads to Mexico in search of a spark and returns with his first trophy in several years.
It’s a formula Graeme McDowell patented last year at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, where the Ulsterman won a three-man playoff for his first PGA Tour victory since 2013. It’s also one that Webb Simpson hopes to follow one year later.
Simpson is making his first career start at El Camaleon Golf Club, but he had no trouble finding his footing during a bogey-free 65 that left him at 6 under, two shots off the pace set by Chris Kirk.
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“Never really hit many bad shots and made some putts, so all around good solid start for me,” Simpson told reporters.
Simpson has only one victory since his breakthrough win at The Olympic Club, that coming at the 2013 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He was one of several players forced to switch their putting styles when the USGA outlawed anchoring earlier this year, and the adjustment was a large reason why he failed to advance past the Deutsche Bank Championship.
But Simpson’s T-31 finish last week in Las Vegas was his best result since the PGA Championship in July, and he believes it’s the start of a promising new campaign.
“I think I’ve been hitting it pretty good and consistent for a while,” he said. “I’m starting to putt better, and so it’s always good seeing putts go in. You turn an even par round into 3 under, or today a 4 under round into 6 under and it makes a lot of difference out here.”
Simpson lost to McDowell in a playoff at the 2013 RBC Heritage, but he wouldn’t mind putting his name one notch below a fellow U.S. Open champ’s on the Mayakoba trophy.
“I would see why Graeme would win out here, you’ve got to hit it straight and he drives it pretty straight,” he said. “Like I said, good start for me and three more days to go.”