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Family-man Webb Simpson striving to stay patient at PGA Championship

Charlotte’s Webb Simpson shot a 1-under 69 Friday in the second round of the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J.
Charlotte’s Webb Simpson shot a 1-under 69 Friday in the second round of the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. AP

Patience, Webb Simpson believes, will keep him in contention this weekend at the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club.

It’s something Simpson – a Charlotte resident grew up in Raleigh and played collegiately at Wake Forest – has learned over his eight-year career on the PGA Tour, no more than when he won the U.S. Open in 2012 at San Francisco’s Olympic Club.

“Most of the majors we play are on hard courses,” said Simpson, who shot his second consecutive 69 in Friday’s second round and was 2-under par for the tournament. “So I think I’ve learned how patient you have to be. It’s so easy to make a dumb mistake, and I made two (Friday). But you have to get past them and keep going.”

Simpson played in one of the early groups Friday. Rains overnight and into the morning softened and lengthened Baltusrol’s 7,462-yard layout.

Simpson had three birdies on his front nine and at one point was 4 under for the tournament. But he gave two of those back with two bogeys on his finishing nine. A three-putt on the fifth hole and a poor tee shot on the par-3 ninth were costly.

There’s lots of little people needing mommy and daddy all the time.

Dowd Simpson

“I three-putted from 35 feet, and I knew how slow it was,” Simpson said. “Still, I left it short. And I knew you can’t miss it to the left on nine. And I missed it left.”

Simpson had lunch after finishing his round, then worked on his putting with caddie Paul Tesori. Then Simpson headed to the house he’s renting for the week with his wife Dowd and their four children.

The Simpsons’ youngest child, daughter Mercy, was born in May.

Two weeks before Mercy was due, Simpson drove from their home at Quail Hollow Club toward Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., where he planned to play in the Players Championship.

Simpson, a former Wake Forest star, won the U.S. Open in 2012

About 90 minutes outside of Charlotte – near Columbia – Simpson began having second thoughts about leaving so close to the due date.

“I had woken up that morning and didn’t feel really good about leaving, although the doctor and Dowd said it was fine,” Simpson said. “I spent my first hour on the road praying about it.

“Then I finally turned around. I was a wreck. I’m a big believer in the power of prayer. I didn’t want to miss the birth. It was a big deal.”

Simpson waited until he was within 30 minutes of Charlotte before calling Dowd to tell her he had turned back.

4 Career PGA Tour victories by Simpson

“It didn’t matter what I said,” Dowd said. “He was coming back. I said, ‘OK, hey, I’d love to have you another week before the baby gets here.’ 

Then Dowd began having contractions.

When Webb arrived , they immediately drove to Carolinas Medical Center.

“We left for the hospital at 10 (a.m.),” Webb said. “We got to the hospital at 10:30. By the time I parked, it was 10:40. Five minutes later, the baby was out.”

Dowd and the kids – all under 5 years old, including older brother James and sisters Willow, Wyndham and now Mercy – travel with Webb to most tournaments.

“It’s good. Having four kids under 5 is a little crazy, though,” Webb said. “But Dowd’s a champ. I’m busy and tired. Everybody asks me why I’m losing weight. I’m trying to stay in as good as possible shape because it’s tiring.”

Said Dowd: “There’s lots of little people needing mommy and daddy all the time.”

The family takes advantage of daycare provided by the PGA Tour on days like Friday, when Dowd followed Webb for most of his round.

“We have to rent two cars,” said Dowd. “Four car seats. We get all the kids’ stuff in one suitcase. I have one suitcase.

“But Webb has three suitcases.” 

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