Webb joins Bubba, Keegan in major champs trio

21 June 2012 07:16

New US Open champion Webb Simpson is making a quick PGA return this week, joining fellow reigning US major champions Bubba Watson and Keegan Bradley at the Travelers Championship.

Masters champion Watson and 2011 PGA Championship winner Bradley will play together with Simpson on Thursday afternoon and start from the 10th tee on Friday morning at the $6 million event.

Simpson never considered skipping the tournament, repaying the loyalty shown when sponsors gave him an exemption in 2008 to play when he was just out of college.

"I feel comfortable here," Simpson said. "My wife and I never even talked about not coming.

"It's a great week for me to kind of unwind from the US Open, but be able to put my focus elsewhere and kind of get away from just reflecting and thinking about it and trying to put my focus on trying to win this golf tournament."

Simpson caught a late-night flight from California on Sunday after his US Open victory at The Olympic Club and snubbed offers from talk shows to focus on giving his best this week at TPC River Highlands.

"I didn't really have time if I wanted to get here and get prepared," Simpson said. "We just basically told (talk shows) we appreciate the offer and interest, but I had prior commitments."

Simpson, who was 13th at the Travelers a year ago, is also committed to missing next month's British Open to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

"After winning, it's certainly a little harder not to go because I would love to go and try to win another major," Simpson said.

"But in the grand scheme of things it's a decision that I know I'll always be happy that I made. I have the rest of my life to play in the British Open. I don't want to miss the birth of the second child, so it's an easy decision."

Simpson is following the advice he sought after his US Open triumph from Watson, who won the Masters last April in a dramatic playoff, on how to cope with the extra attention of being a major champion.

"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 -- 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 said.

Watson spent two days after the Masters on a whirlwind media tour before playing in New Orleans and then taking a month off, he and his wife Angie having just adopted a baby son before the Masters.

Watson is still finalizing the adoption paperwork and making a move from North Carolina to Orlando. He has missed two of three cuts since winning the Masters but trying to find his top form and settle the chaos outside of golf.

"It was a lot of positive stuff, but mentally draining stuff," Watson said. "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."

Watson's first career title came at the 2010 Travelers, also in a playoff.

Bradley is trying to regain his form as well after a strong start to the season that saw him share second at Phoenix and manage seven other top-20 finishes. Since placing 27th at the Masters, he has missed three of six cuts and finished no better than 24th.

American Patrick Cantlay will make his professional debut this week, playing alongside fellow 20-year-old Ryo Ishikawa of Japana and John Peterson, an American who shared fourth at the US Open.

Cantlay fired a course-record 60 in the second round of last year's Travelers, the lowest score ever fired by an amateur in a PGA event. He eventually shared 24th and the effort helped him decide to turn professional.

Ishikawa is a special temporary member who is on the verge of obtaining full PGA membership for next year after a runner-up showing in Puerto Rico and a share of ninth earlier this month at the Memorial.