Simpson enjoyed a quiet resurgence this season, highlighted by his four-shot victory at the Players Championship in May.
As part of the leadup to the Ryder Cup, which will be played at Le Golf National in France from Sept. 28–30, we'll be providing player capsules for each of the 12 members of Team USA.
As a reminder, here are the American players who will try to win the Cup on European soil for the first time in 25 years:
All of the capsules will follow the same format. We'll run through a few factoids (age, world ranking, Ryder Cup record, season statistics), look at how he made the team, what he brings to the team and whom he might partner with.
World ranking: 17
Season stats: One win (Players), one second-place finish (Wyndham), eight top 10s, 22 made cuts in 25 starts
Ryder Cup experience: Third Ryder Cup (2012, 2014), 2-3-1 overall record, 0-1-1 singles record
How he made the team: The 2012 U.S. Open champion has quietly had quite the resurgence. After the anchor ban went into effect in ’16, Simpson—who had used a belly putter for virtually his entire career—struggled significantly on the greens, dropping all the way to 84th in the world heading into ’17. He then received a putting lesson from fellow ex-bellier Tim Clarke and has been a different player since. He managed six top 10s in ’17 to get back into the world top 50 before securing the second biggest win of his career at the Players in May.
Simpson earned $1.98 million from that W—the second largest grand prize in golf, behind only the U.S. Open—and since the points standings are based off money earned, he put himself in the driver's seat to make the team. Still, Simpson headed into the PGA Championship in the eighth and final auto-qualifying position and could have been edged out by either DeChambeau or Mickelson. Simpson finished T-19 that week while both Mickelson and DeChambeau missed the cut, sealing his third Ryder Cup bid by finishing eighth in the point standings.
What he brings to the team: He's consistent and he has a terrific short game. Simpson hasn't missed a cut since the Travelers in June and his scoring average of 69.311 is fifth on Tour. Simpson is probably the shortest hitter on the U.S. roster (he's 118th on Tour in driving distance), but length shouldn't be too much of an issue at a Le Golf National track that puts a premium on hitting fairways. If there's a knock on Simpson's match play prospects, it's that he's a grinder who makes a bunch of pars, not a streaky player who tends to make birdies in bunches. But Simpson is fourth in sand-save percentage and seventh in strokes gained putting. A strong short game always bodes well in match play, and Simpson certainly qualifies.
Potential partners: I wouldn't expect Simpson to play more than two of the four two-man sessions—there's a feeling that he's the weakest link on this U.S. team, and it's not unreasonable to suggest that captain Jim Furyk would rather have Xander Schauffele on the team. Still, Simpson's steady-eddy style could pair well with a big hitter; Simpson could play safe and allow his partner to be aggressive. Bubba Watson comes to mind, as does Tony Finau.