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Simpson: I never thought about winning

ESPN staff
June 18, 2012 « Heat edge ahead thanks to James' big performance | Chartbeat test »

Webb Simpson says winning this year's US Open did not cross his mind as he manoeuvred his way to a first major title.

Simpson shot back-to-back 68s at the weekend to edge out Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and American Jim Furyk in a tense final round on Sunday. The 26-year-old revealed he stopped looking at the leaderboard during the closing stages as his unlikely victory began to become a reality.

"To be honest, I never thought about it," Simpson said. "I never really wrapped my mind around winning.

"This place is so demanding, and so all I was really concerned about was keeping the ball in front of me and making pars. You hear all the guys say it, but it's so true, the course is so hard you don't know if you're going to make three or four bogeys in a row."

After finishing the final round with the clubhouse lead at one-over, Simpson said he could not stand to watch McDowell and Furyk close in. McDowell missed a 20-foot birdie putt to send the tournament into a play-off, which forced Simpson to emerge from hiding.

"They asked me if I would go up to the Costas' booth and sit there for a couple of minutes, and we did that," he said. "Basically I just wanted to go somewhere quiet with my wife where we could talk. I was so nervous all day, but especially there at the end. Even when I was done I was nervous. I wanted to go some place quiet with her.

"We tried to watch videos of our son James that we have on our phone, and we did that to stay calm. I think we stayed in the locker room the rest of the time."

Simpson, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, believes overnight leaders McDowell and Furyk took the pressure off him as he made his move on Sunday.

"I have no experience in major championships and contention at all," he said. "So for me to play Sunday fourth from the last group was probably a huge help as opposed to the last group. I felt a lot of pressure all week playing this golf course, how demanding it is, but I can imagine playing the final group of a major is really tough."

Simpson is the 15th different winner in as many major tournaments, and the American believes the impact 14-time major winner Tiger Woods has had on the game in past decades has altered the way golf is played.

"I think the game's changing. My caddie and I were talking this week, the 14-year-old kid [Andy Zhang] was here. [17-year-old] Beau Hossler was playing so well. I couldn't imagine playing in even a qualifier for this tournament when I was in high school.

"But I think the Tiger effect of inspiring people to play at a younger age, and I think the access to golf has gotten so much bigger that the game is changing. Even in college, I would have been scared to death to play in a US Open. And these guys are playing like they're trying to win the tournament."

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