An Interview With Champion Paul Simson October 6, 2010 By USGA

CHRISTINA LANCE: We have Mr. Paul Simson. Just tell us what the week has been like for you. You had quite the summer.

PAUL SIMSON: I'll tell you, it all kind of blurs together, but I got down here last Thursday and played a practice round. I immediately liked the course. I did play in the championship in 1995, but admittedly I don't remember too much abooutBut the golf course was to my liking, a little bit longer than we usually play the Seniors, a couple of really long holes, the 3rd and the 16. With my length, a lot of times that works to my advantage. Couple of par 5s were reachable, No. 9 and 15, I guess.

Got into qualifying, and, you know, you always wonder if you're going to go crazy and mess up, but it was getting pretty obvious that Pat and I were both playing really well. So the qualifying went fairly easy. I wouldn't say that I didn't try to be a medalist, but maybe I didn't try as hard as I was in the past because of the jinx ‑‑ not that I can't sneak up on anybody anymore.

But, you know, the ultimate goal is to win the championship, and I wanted to qualify high. The draw, I think, came to my advantage. Chip Lutz also had a very wonderful summer, and he was in the upper half. Obviously, Pat playing well. He was in the upper half. Randy Nichols in the lower half. He finished third in the qualifier, so he was in the bottom of the lower half and was beaten in the quarterfinal.

Q. Third round.

PAUL SIMSON: Oh, third round. So I had some challenging matches, but I really wasn't up against somebody who had really gone deep in the championship round. The draw was pretty good for me.

Whereas Pat, I mentioned had been a lot longer. Didn't win in the afternoon. It's just one of those things. I played solidly in every match. I was under par in every single match, made very few bogeys out there.

How many birdies did I have?

Q. Four.

PAUL SIMSON: Four on the front nine. Once I got a pretty good lead like that, as long as you don't make too many bogeys, you're usually going to be able to prevail. I wasn't trying to miss birdies, but they weren't coming in on the back nine. I wasn't hitting as close as I'd like. Once you get a fellow four down through 11 holes ‑‑ actually, through 12 holes, they're really in pretty deep trouble.

I knew I could make a couple of good swings. On the 14th hole, I got another good shot there again. I know I can drive it on the green, play good ball. And today I just got up there, and I was nice and calm until I started taking it back, and then the swing got quick, and that ball left in a hurry, but I was able to make that.

That was the key to the match in my mind, being able to get that ball on the far left side of the green and being able just to get it trickling over that shelf and rolling it down there about 2 1/2 feet. To me, that was the key. Pat was right there, 15, 18 feet for birdie. If he'd have made that, certainly things would have been a lot tighter.

Q. It was driver he hit off the tee?

PAUL SIMSON: He hit driver. We're probably going to have to figure out a way to ‑‑ if we play another match, we might have to reconsider my strategy there because it doesn't work out very well.

I had a tremendous length advantage on Pat on No. 15, and, you know, could have hit 3 iron on the green, but I kind of took a more conservative route, tried to knock it up there to the right. Hit a pretty good chip up there and thought that I had made that putt, but he missed his. 3 down with three to play.

And I didn't hit a very good second shot on the 16. I had some mud on that ball, and normally when I have mud on that ball, I try to hit it one more club. In this case, I told Phillip [his son and caddie] I was so juiced out, I think I'd better hit the 4 iron. The 3 iron might have gone just halfway to the moon I was so excited. And I did not hit a very good shot there. Actually, he won that hole.

On 17, I knew his ball was off the green, and I just got up there and did the regular old stock 6 iron. I only got to play 17 once in the match play, but I knew that the pin had not been on the back of the green. So I basically had the exact same putt that I practiced yesterday. [Inaudible].

Once he didn't get his chip on the green, I knew that I could two‑putt. Pretty excited to see my name go up again. I've got to tell you.

Q. Paul, you've got tremendous success. Your resume speaks for itself, all the championships you've won. To finally get one ‑‑ I know I've talked to Trip [Kuehne] about it, Buddy Marucci the same way. It's almost like a lifetime achievement. You feel like it's a lifetime achievement award or something?

PAUL SIMSON: There is nothing like a USGA championship. The British Seniors are very special to me. Whenever you're a champion of a country, it's something special. You know, when I won the Canadian, that was a huge thrill for me, but to win the USGA Senior, as far as senior golf, nothing really compares. It is the granddad.

I think Jim said it's the crowning jewel. It is the crowning jewel for me. It really is a very special thing. To win all three in one year, I just can't believe it. It's been a lot of hard work and a lot of good golf.

Q. Well, in the two championships ‑‑ I mean, the two other ones were stroke plays. It's four days. This is two days of stroke play and then six matches. And match play has been kind of a little bit of a problem for you.

PAUL SIMSON: Match play ‑‑ years ago I liked match play. Winning two North‑Souths, and I had some success. And some of the Mid‑Ams and U.S. Ams, got into the semifinals a few times. But more recent years, the match play has not been good to me and stroke play has. Very consistent in stroke play. Very seldom am I over par, very seldom am I over 74.

You know, if you can keep that bad round out of there, a lot of times in stroke play, you can win a lot.

This week, I said, you know, match play is what it is, and you've got to go out and beat everybody. There was only one match that I was one down after 1, and I corrected that in a hurry. All the other matches, I was in the entire way.

I just tried to run away from Pat. I was so excited on that 8th and 9th hole, what I was doing, all of a sudden, that adrenaline is going through you, it leaves, and I found myself almost hanging on a little bit toward the end.

We were both playing well, but I just didn't have that extra edge going where I was making everything.

Q. Is this as well as you've played over the course of a week, considering it's match play and you did pretty much run away from everybody?

PAUL SIMSON: My first match, I was 4 under on the front nine. I didn't sneak up on that fellow either, but he said, I heard you were a good putter, but this is ridiculous.

[ Laughter]

Every time I putted one, it seemed like it was going in, and he'd just shake his head. He was so frustrated, he gave me a 5‑footer to finish the match. He just put his stick up and said, I've seen enough.

I played well all week. Every single match, I played very solid. When you're 2, 3, and 4 up through 10, 11, 12 holes, it makes it pretty easy to play that back nine.

Q. After you made the cut, someone walked off the green and said, what am I supposed to do, tackle you? Just essentially foul?

PAUL SIMSON: Kelly Miller hung that title on me that my putter has hurt more people than polio, or crippled more people than polio. It's been a very ‑‑ my short game has been very good to me.

And today, I mean, look at what it did on those first five holes. Making that putt on 1 ‑‑ actually, the first seven holes. Making that putt on 7 and the chip on 5. I might still have made that putt but didn't have to worry about that.

Q. You made a pretty good putt on the par 3 2 coming back with that 77‑foot putt.

PAUL SIMSON: That was a 10‑footer coming back down. You know, in a way it becomes easy because, if it misses, you don't have to worry about it. It's not like stroke play where you've got to kind of get it down there in case you miss. This putt would have been a success, but it makes it a lot easier to putt that when you know you just have to tap and it either goes in or you lose the hole.

Whereas when you're going to win a hole, a lot of times you have to be concerned that, if you do miss the putt, you're going to have a fairly easy tap.

In match play, if you keep the heat on somebody long enough, eventually something usually happens well, but it's in good hands. I was able to do that through.

Q. Your trophy case at home must be just humongous. Where is this trophy going to go among all the other pieces of hardware?

PAUL SIMSON: I don't know where we're going to put this one, but it's a real special thing. And having my son Phillip on the bag out there is very comforting to have family out there. It's my tendency ‑‑ he knows my strength, and he can sometimes keep me from going to my weaknesses. He probably should have said something to me on 14, but we had such a run there, I think he just gave up on me.

Q. We saw what you hit off the tee there.

Q. Of course, he'd have to chase after you with all the cuts.

Q. When the putt rattled home all the way on 1, did you kind of have a feeling here's another day, or was it just too soon?

PAUL SIMSON: Well, that was a salvo in a way. Pat made a lot of putts in the qualifier, and I did make some putts in the qualifier also. But I'm ‑‑ Mike Goode said it best to me. He said, you can't save them. Get used to them. You know, that's a really good thing to think.

You can't ever save anything in golf. You wish that you could have made a three‑footer, but you didn't. I'm more comfortable with ‑‑ I don't have to worry about putts going in. I'm going to make some as long as I keep my stroke smooth and just believe my eyes and putt with confidence, I make a lot of putts. I get used to it. In a way, I expect to. More of a positive attitude thing.

And I'm not worried about missing putts. A lot of people, you know, they worry about running five and six feet behind and make it coming back. Easier said than done, I agree.

Q. If you're another player, easier said than done.

Q. Who's the guy that told you that, Mike Cook?

PAUL SIMSON: Mike Goodes. He's on the seniors tour. He said that. He also said that sometimes they're just difficult shots in golf, and you have to step up, and you have to hit the golf shot. A lot of times amateurs are looking for a bail out where they can stay out of trouble. Sometimes you've just got to step up there and hit a shot.

Q. You had on 5 that tee shot. That was an impressive shot.

PAUL SIMSON: I knew I had an advantage there. I wanted to win that hole and to play it out there where he was. So, you know, basically, I could see the whole way where they moved the tee up there. It was probably 230 to clear on the line. And I went ‑‑ and my tee ball fell wide, 250 to 260, but I did put a good swing on that one. That was probably my best shot of the day as far as tee balls.

I wish it had gone another 10 yards because it had that little knob, but that was one of the good shots. But I hit a lot of good shots. Pat had a lot of good shots. He plays a little different game than I do because he's got that little cut move all the time. He doesn't play as aggressively as I do.

Q. Congratulations. Well done.

Q. Very good.

Q. Is your season now over?PAUL SIMSON: You’re not going to believe this. I have a tee time tomorrow at 11:30 in a championship in Raleigh – the North Carolina 4-Ball. I was telling Christina on the way over here that I thought this championship was being held three weeks hence. I found out two weeks ago about it that yeah, it’s on Friday.

I thought might be home Tuesday or Wednesday. Now I'm going home tonight.

Q. Did Jim Hyler call you at all? Are you friends with him?PAUL SIMSON: I sponsored Hyler at our club. When he moved from Roanoke Rapids ‑‑ I'm sorry. Roanoke area from Virginia down to Raleigh, he came out to Northridge, and I was one of his sponsors. So we've known each other for years. He's been a good friend.

Q. Did you get a call from him at all? PAUL SIMSON: I'm sure I'll get a call from him. I gave him a bad time about being a bluecoat now.

He's a breath of fresh air. He certainly is interested in the good of the game, and he's not afraid to tell you what the good of the game ‑‑ or what he thinks is the good of the game. I think he's got some great ideas, and I think he's a great president.

I was with him the day after he was asked to be on there. Fred Ridley called him up, and Jim had been the chairman of the ‘99 Open. I don't know whether ‑‑ I think he wanted to do it, but he didn't know how to work it, and it was a very successful Open. Fred called, and he told Fred, I think you've got the wrong number.

Q. He told him that?PAUL SIMSON: Yeah. He said, are you sure you're calling me? He said, yeah, you're the guy we want. Oh, yeah, I'd love to do that. But he's a good fellow.

Q. I'm sure he's happy for you.PAUL SIMSON: I know he's very happy for me. There's a lot of folks who are very happy.

Q. Congratulations.

Q. See you next year on the circuit. You're going to be playing more rounds. Inverness.PAUL SIMSON: You've created a huge dilemma because, as luck would have it, the British Senior is at Walton Heath, where I won this year, the week before, and then the week after that, the Senior Amateur is back at Royal Portrush. So I've got to go back and forth a couple times across the pond. I usually don't like to do that, but I probably will.

Q. Nice to have those travel issues. Have you played over there?PAUL SIMSON: I played the Senior Open when it was there, in '05.

Q. Lietzke won it.PAUL SIMSON: And Lietzke and I were roommates on the Senior Tour a while ago. So we were roomies. Lietzke won it.

Q. He didn't play this year.PAUL SIMSON: I know. Don't worry. I'm going to use my exemption.

Q. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.