PGA: Webb Simpson thrilled to qualify for ‘backyard’ U.S. Open

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A North Carolina native, Webb Simpson has been playing at Pinehurst since his junior golf and high school days.

He is back on the familiar track this week for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 after qualifying last week in Durham, N.C.

“This was one I really, really didn’t want to miss,” Simpson told reporters Monday. “It was a little harder getting here than normal for me. I had to go qualify. But (it) was super exciting and satisfying to get through and to come here and compete.

“This is a golf course that I feel like I know really well. I feel comfortable on it. I just didn’t want to miss the U.S. Open in my backyard.”

Simpson, who won the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, shot a 67-69 to finish 4-under at last Monday’s qualifier.

“It’s a long day, especially for someone who understands how sweet it is to be in a major, especially a U.S. Open here at Pinehurst,” Simpson said. “It was like there was that pressure on me, but I think it was good and bad.

“I think the good was it allowed me to really take the qualifier serious, do my prep work beforehand and don’t take it for granted. I’m so happy The scores weren’t that good the second round. It got a little tricky, but it was good enough.”

Simpson, 38, is currently No. 220 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He finished T50 in his most recent tournament at last month’s Charles Schwab Challenge. His highest finish so far this season was a T24 at last month’s Wells Fargo Championship.

Simpson finished T45 at 10-over par the last time the U.S. Open was played at Pinehurst in 2014, when Germany’s Martin Kaymer ran away with the victory at 9 under.

“I felt more pressure in ’14, my first time playing in a major here,” Simpson said. “Whatever I was in the world, top 15. But now being here, I kind of see it as a gift to be here.

“I didn’t get in. I had to go qualify. So I feel like it’s all upside. My game is so much better than it was a year ago. As weird as it sounds, I feel like I can compete.

“I’m not going to be happy unless I play well overall. But I am thankful to be here. I think I used all these things, the comfort of being here, to my advantage.”

–Field Level Media

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