Webb Simpson’s iron switch paying off at PGA
TULSA, Okla. – While major equipment switches the week of a major are rare, one is paying off for Webb Simpson at the PGA Championship.
Simpson shot 1-under 69 at Southern Hills on Thursday. It was one of the top rounds in a breezy and blustery afternoon at the Oklahoma course. He used a new set of irons, the Titleist T100s, after committing to the new clubs earlier in the week.
“Today felt like the golf that I know how to play. It didn't feel abnormal. I wasn't surprised. But I'm very thankful to get off to a good start in a really tough condition day,” said Simpson, whose seven PGA TOUR wins include the 2012 U.S. Open and 2018 PLAYERS.
It has been a difficult season for Simpson, who entered the week ranked 141st in the FedExCup. He has just two top-25s this season, and none since the calendar turned to 2022.
He’s struggled with his iron game, which is traditionally one of his hallmarks. He ranks 84th in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green after sitting inside the top 25 for six consecutive seasons from 2015-20. Simpson finally relented and made the switch to the cavity-back Titleist T100 irons this week after playing forged, muscle-back blades for almost the entirety of his career. The T100s are forged and have the look of a blade at address while utilizing a cavity-back to increase forgiveness.
“I've had a couple of short stints with non-blades in my career but not many,” said Simpson, who had been using Titleist’s 620 MB irons. “I haven't been hitting my irons great. Approach to the green is typically a strength for me; this year it's been a weakness, and I've struggled out of the rough. I keep getting told that these the irons I'm playing are better out of the rough, better with distance control, better with mis-hits, and so I guess I was being stubborn but finally listened and I really like them.
“They're not a whole lot different than mine the way they look, but we've had good results with them so far.”
Simpson’s caddie, Paul Tesori, recommended a potential switch after Simpson missed the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship. They experimented with the new clubs at Simpson’s home club, Quail Hollow in Charlotte, last week. That was after Simpson discovered them in his garage after fearing he may have given them away.
“I don't know if Titleist will like this or not, but if I don't use a set I give it to a friend,” Simpson said Thursday. “I'm trying to spread the word for Titleist, you know. So I might have given to a friend, but I see them in there, we bring them out, and all the numbers we tested were way better.
“So I still wasn't certain that I was going to put them in this week so I have both. The biggest thing for me is when I look down I want to make sure it looks good, and then after that all I care about is the numbers and how it's going to perform out of the rough. So far they've passed the test.”