StatsNovember 22, 2019

Why Webb Simpson is the best at going low on the PGA Tour right now

Tom Pennington

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — Webb Simpson took the early lead at the RSM Classic despite the fact he didn't shoot the day's lowest score, a quirk caused by the tournament's two host courses having different pars. But while that might be a confusing concept for golf fans to wrap their heads around, there's nothing confusing—or surprising—about Simpson shooting a low number.

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In fact, Simpson has been the best at that on the PGA Tour since the beginning of last season, a stat pointed out by PGATour.com's Sean Martin. In that time span, the 2012 U.S. Open winner, along with last season's Rookie of the Year Sungjae Im, share the lead on tour with 14 scores of 65 or better. But as Martin points out, Simpson shoots these scores at a higher clip than anyone, even reigning Player of the Year Rory McIlroy.

Simpson's equation for shooting low scores is pretty simple: great iron play and putting. Last season, he ranked 14th in strokes gained: approach and 11th in strokes gained: putting. That pushed him up to fifth in strokes gained: total despite the fact he only ranked 114th off the tee.

What is hard to figure out, though, is while all those low scores earned him a spot on the U.S. Presidents Cup team next month, how haven't they translated into a victory? The 34-year-old Simpson is well aware of the drought and his history of close calls in this event.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve won,” said Simpson, whose last of five PGA Tour titles came at the 2018 Players. “I’ve given myself chances here. Starting this week, all I wanted was a chance Sunday because I do feel comfortable here.”

In seven starts at Sea Island Golf Club, Simpson has a runner-up and a third-place finish. As the highest-ranked player in the field (No. 12), and with another low score under his belt to start, chances are he'll get that chance come Sunday.

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