Webb Simpson hits back at critics over his $20m PGA Tour event invites

Webb Simpson is adamant he's not received invites into four signature events this season due to being a PGA Tour policy board member.

Webb Simpson has hit back at his critics
Webb Simpson has hit back at his critics

Webb Simpson believes his sponsor exemptions into the PGA Tour's signature events this season have had 'nothing to do with being on the board'.

Simpson, 38, is one of six players on the PGA Tour policy board this season including Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott and Peter Malnati

There had been rumours the 2012 US Open champion would stepping aside this month to vacate his position for a returning Rory McIlroy, but the Northern Irishman confirmed today in a shock update that it would not be happening.

McIlroy claimed 'a subset of people were maybe uncomfortable with me coming back on'.

Rory McIlroy will not return to the PGA Tour policy board
Rory McIlroy will not return to the PGA Tour policy board

Only that is something Simpson denies. 

"No," said Simpson when asked by a reporter if he got the sense fellow players on the board were uncomfortable with a McIlroy return. 

"I think what we had to work through was, you know, where could he -- where could his role best be utilized. There's a lot of different roles right now that different players are playing on different committees or us on the policy board or the enterprises board.

"So they really were looking at it kind of holistically like yes, we want Rory to help, we know he can help and we know he's going to help. Let's all figure out a place where we feel good with saying, can you help us here, and if he feels good, then great, it's a win for all of us."


But it was Simpson's comments about receiving a fourth invite into a PGA Tour signature event this season on the eve of this week's $20m limited-field, no-cut Wells Fargo Championship that raised most eyebrows in the media centre at Quail Hollow.

Webb Simpson will remain on the PGA Tour policy board
Webb Simpson will remain on the PGA Tour policy board

When pressed by a reporter over the social media criticism he has faced in being handed a number of invites into signature events this season, as a result of him ranking 151st in the FedEx Cup and a lowly 227th in the OWGR as a result of just one top-30 finish all season, Simpson admitted it had nothing to do with him being a board member of the PGA Tour. 

In the eyes of the seven-time PGA Tour winner, his latest invites into events have been a result of his relationships with such tournaments and their sponsors through the years. 

Simpson said:

"Well, I'm not a very active social media user, so y'all probably see a lot more criticisms than I do. 

"Look, it's a different day and age now than it was. I know these sponsor exemptions are probably the most coveted sponsor exemptions in the history of the Tour, but we're not going to make everyone happy. 

"As we're looking at what criteria should these sponsor exemptions be, yadda yadda, we're trying to balance making sponsors happy, giving them the opportunity to invite -- you know, these tournament directors, who do they want to bring to their tournament, to their community, who do they think will add value to their tournament.

"These tournament directors are working round the clock for a year trying to make their tournament the best. We want to give them the opportunity to say hey, you have a few spots, four spots in these Signature Events to be able to invite who you want to invite.

"I know that I've gotten, this is my fourth sponsor exemption, and Adam Scott's received his fair share. There was controversy and guys were trying to link us being on the board, but it has nothing to do with me being on the board. 

"I've known these tournament directors, and they'll tell you themselves, since my rookie year in 2009. I have great affection for those tournaments and those sponsors and I think it's way more than just currently who's getting in. How long have they been out here, they've won major championships, they've been around the game for a long time, and these tournament directors, Gary Sobba is a friend of mine and he gets to pick along with Wells Fargo who do they think would be great for their tournament.

"So I certainly think the criticisms, I knew they were going to come depending on who got them, but I'm very comfortable knowing that we've given the sponsors the opportunity to pick, and the tournament directors. I want -- I want to move on from it and realize that the Wells Fargo Championship is an amazing tournament.

"I'm excited to be here, it's my home and I get to do cool things this week. I got to go to the Trojans Levine Center last week, played bingo with some kids in the hospital through this exemption. I get to hang out with some kids today on the range for The First Tee of Charlotte.

"There's things that I'm way more interested in and that get me excited than kind of worrying about what a certain person thinks about who should get sponsor exemptions."

What do you make of Webb Simpson receiving a fourth invite into a signature event on the PGA Tour this season? Share your thoughts and comments over on the GolfMagic social media channels.

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