Before Davis Love III called him up, Webb Simpson knew he was going to be named assistant captain of the Presidents Cup, or so he thought.
You can thank Tiger Woods for that.
As Simpson recounts, he went out to eat last Tuesday in Wilmington, North Carolina, with his family at his favorite hot dog restaurant, Trolley Stop. Admittedly, Simpson was a bit stressed; His children annoyed the owner of the restaurant by continually opening the door, and in addition to cornering them, Simpson also had to order.
Adding to the hubbub: Simpson’s phone began to ring.
“I looked down and it was Tiger,” Simpson recalled Tuesday at the Wyndham Championship. “I told Tiger that I had to call him back, that he had to order my hotdogs. So, order my hotdogs, get out of there, give him a call and yes, he just referenced me living in Charlotte, [this year’s President Cup venue] Quail Hollow is my home, he thought he would bring a lot to the team.
“It meant a lot, but honestly, I ended the phone call and said, I don’t know if that was official or not. I don’t know if he meant he’s supporting me to be an assistant or if I’m an assistant.”
The next day in Detroit, Simpson met with Zach Johnson, who was already one of Captain Love’s assistants, and confirmed what Woods had shared. They laughed at the story of Woods spoiling the upset, and the next night, Love finally gave the official word, welcoming Simpson to Team USA (Steve Stricker was named along with Simpson).
For Simpson, it was an honor to accept the job. He had been thinking about this year’s games at Quail Hollow for a long time, he said, and with only a top-10 finish since last year’s Wyndham, his chances of making the 12-man squad as a player were slim to none.
“Not that I was afraid I wouldn’t be a part of it, but there was a part of me that said, if I don’t make the team and Davis goes in a different direction, that’s fine, but it’s going to be hard to watch the presidents. The Cup happens there and not be a part of it in any way,” Simpson said. “So, I was very, very relieved to have the opportunity to be a part of this.”
The 36-year-old Simpson, who has played three Ryder and Presidents Cups each, also told a story from his debut for the American team at the 2011 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne, where captain Jim Furyk shared some wisdom with him: ” When he’s done with his golf career, he’ll really look back and remember his victories and his team’s events.”
“So far,” Simpson continued, “those are the best memories I’ve made in the game, the three Ryder Cups and the President Cups. So, I’m super excited to be together with Davis, Zach, Strick and Freddie. [Couples]. … I know those guys well, I’ve been around them for a long time. I don’t feel much older than the guys that will be on the team because I’ve played with them for a long time, but I guess some of them, like Scottie [Scheffler]I am much older than.”
Simpson begins this week’s regular season finale in Greensboro, North Carolina, ranking 117th in FedExCup points. He’s likely to be in next week’s playoff opener in Memphis, but with only the top 70 advancing to the BMW Championship, Simpson may have plenty of time to prepare.
On the other hand, Simpson could rattle off a couple of wins and shock the world by reaching East Lake and potentially force Love’s hand for a captain’s pick.
“I’m excited about that captain’s phone call to see who we should pick,” Simpson said. “If I’m in the running, it might be fun/awkward if I nominate myself for a pick, so we’ll see.”