If there's frustration, it's that it was his best finish in the three tournaments in his home state this summer. Simpson — who lives in Charlotte, N.C., but grew up in Raleigh, N.C., learned to play at Carolina Country Club, went to Broughton and played college golf at Wake Forest — missed the cut at the displaced Wells Fargo Championship in Wilmington and finished tied for 33rd at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, his home course, before going into Sunday with every chance to win.
"I always want to play better the closer I am to home," Simpson said. "I do love all the golf courses in the area, with Hilton Head and Augusta and Sea Island. But after you play these courses enough, you come to know them a little bit, you feel like you should play better than some other guys because you've just seen it more."
Being in contention may not have the same benefits as winning, but it offers positive reinforcement both tangible and otherwise. At 25th on the money list, Simpson is once again safely in the FedEx Cup playoffs that begin next week, in position for his best finish since a four-year stretch from 2011-14, when he finished in the top 20 each year.
In the meantime, while he awaits a return to the podium, there are consolation benefits. His family is with him most weeks on tour, a boy and three girls, all under 6, and the entire traveling roadshow was at Sedgefield on Sunday. While Simpson signed his scorecard, two of his children "guarded" his golf bag until caddie Paul Tesori returned to retrieve it. And then, the short drive home from a course he knows well, where he has won before and had hopes Sunday of winning again.