Webb Simpson could have taken a pass on this week’s Travelers Championship in favor of making the rounds of the talk-show circuit. Instead, the newly crowned U.S. Open champ seemed to take Masters winner Bubba Watson’s advice to “to say no” to the many off-course distractions that can consumer major championship victors.
“I didn’t really have time if I wanted to get here and get prepared,” Simpson, who took the red-eye home to Charlotte, N.C., after his one-shot win Sunday in San Francisco, told reporters Wednesday ahead of this week’s PGA Tour stop at TPC River Highlands. “We just basically told [talk shows] we appreciate the offer and interest, but I had prior commitments.”
Watson, will, no doubt, commend Simpson for his decision when the two appear with reigning PGA Championship titleholder Keegan Bradley in the tourney’s marquee threesome Thursday and Friday. After all, Watson, who took a month off after riding the celebrity circuit to celebrate his April win at Augusta National, shared his wisdom about how to deal with the distractions and additional attention about to beset Simpson.
“I said, ‘You’re going to have more fans. You’re going to have more people wanting you to sign, and your agent is going to have more things for you to do,’” Watson said in a Wednesday press conference. “You are just going to have to be able to say no and do what’s right for you and your family, not what’s right for other people.”
Watson, who has missed two of three cuts, including the Open, since returning from his post-Masters hiatus, said he was still trying to determine how to manage his on- and off-course lives.
“It was a lot of positive stuff, but mentally draining stuff,” said Watson, who notched his first tour win at the 2010 Travelers. “I’m trying to learn from that, figure out how to say no to people, get better at golf but also be a good father and good husband and balance my life in the right direction. It’s all a learning process.”
Still, Simpson said his demeanor may make it difficult for him to disappoint fans and others demanding his time.
“I’m a people-pleaser, so I’m going to have to get used to saying no, which is tough for my personality,” he said.
For sure, making his fifth trip to Cromwell, Conn., since 2008 was a no-brainer for Simpson, who accepted a sponsor’s exemption for his second start as a tour pro.
“I love this event. I love Hartford. I love playing this golf course,” he said. “I don’t think we play more courses where the back nine is as exciting as it is….So there’s some events out here that are tough courses or tough weeks just logistically and this is one of those that’s easygoing, great fans and it’s an enjoyable week.”
Simpson, who won his second of three tour events at Boston’s Deutsche Bank Championship last year, will also skip next month’s British Open to be with his wife for the birth of the couple’s second child. There would be plenty of Open Championships in the future, Simpson said.
“I have the rest of my life to play in the British Open,” he said. “I don’t want to miss the birth of the second child, so it’s an easy decision.”
Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. You may follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminer