This type of event isn't new to American
There are Ryder Cup rookies. Then there's Webb Simpson.
Within the last 13 months, the 27-year-old from North Carolina has won a U.S. Open, captured PGA Tour events in back-to-back months, finished second on the money list and played a major role in a U.S. Presidents Cup victory. Few players enter their first Ryder Cup with as much reason to believe they can handle the pressure of golf's most intense team competition.
"I would say it's the same [as the Presidents Cup] except all the emotions will be more," Simpson said in a recent phone interview. "It will be louder. You'll be a little more nervous. But I think the Presidents Cup is going to help me get through the experience, making me feel like it's not my first."
When the Ryder Cup tees off Friday morning at Medinah Country Club in the suburbs of Chicago, Europe will have a significant experience edge. While long-hitting Nicolas Colsaerts is Europe's lone rookie, the United States will have four first-time players, though Simpson might not seem like one.
"The goal is you want to feel as comfortable as possible," Simpson said. "I kind of knew what to expect going into the Presidents Cup, and I learned a lot. The experience, if anything, got me more excited for the Ryder Cup."
Simpson was one of the stars for the U.S. team 10 months ago in Melbourne. Captain Fred Couples sent Simpson and Bubba Watson out first in each of the first four phases of the competition, and they won their first three. Their leadership was critical as the Americans seized the momentum and never let go en route to a wire-to-wire 19-15 victory.
Simpson isn't sure whether Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, assisted by Couples, will follow the same strategy. Simpson just hopes to be paired up with Watson in a powerhouse duo of this year's first two major championship winners.
"I certainly put in my request," Simpson said. "Davis said, 'You'll be standing in line because a lot of people want to play with Bubba -- 330 down the middle.' We've played so well together, and we're good friends. We feel so comfortable together. I think it'll happen."
As players convene Tuesday for practice rounds at Medinah, the rookies will familiarize themselves with the 7,658-yard course that was formerly in the U.S. Open rotation and most recently hosted the PGA Championship in 1999 and 2006, both won by Tiger Woods.
Simpson has never played the course, which Love will set up to play long to give the Americans an edge. None of the other U.S. rookies -- Jason Dufner, 35; Brandt Snedeker, 31; and Keegan Bradley, 26 -- played in the 2006 PGA. Neither did U.S. players Matt Kuchar or Watson.
"It's going to look like a major, but it's going to play probably easier than a major. That benefits our team," Love told reporters last week. "We're a long-hitting, free-wheeling, fun-to-watch team. And I think it's going to be fun to watch. You want to see birdies."
One of the players most capable of providing them will be fellow North Carolinian Simpson.