Fall 2021 SS Magazine

PGA Tour golfer Webb Simpson, caddie Paul Tesori: True friends and brothers in Christ

Few relationships in sports are as unique as the one between golfer and caddie. Sometimes, it’s simply business. Sometimes, a friendship forms. For PGA Tour veteran Webb Simpson and his longtime caddie, Paul Tesori, the two are like brothers on the course, off the course and in eternity.

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Simpson’s relationship with Tesori began in December 2010 with a simple phone call. Simpson’s last caddie had left to become a pastor, so he was in need of a new caddie. Meanwhile, Tesori was hours away from accepting a job with a more highly-ranked golfer.

All Tesori knew was that Simpson was 25, a couple of years out of Wake Forest and a fellow Christ-follower. Although Tesori was the one seeking a job, he was the one who asked most of the questions.

“I know he has made that joke that I interviewed him, but I did,” Tesori told PGATour.com this week. “I had a lot of questions. I have felt like there’s been times in society where great athletes who are Christians feel like maybe they’re not supposed to be great. I do not fall in that category. I think that God gives people talent to be used to create a platform that they can then use to talk about their faith — and to make an impact on society. Webb, you could tell by his voice, you could tell that he wanted to be great.”

Simpson said Tesori’s message resonated with him. He told Sports Spectrum in 2012 that he wants to be known as a man of God.

“As we look at Biblical manhood, all the great men of the Bible had similar characteristics,” Simpson said. “Leadership, lovers of God, lovers of His Word. When you ponder those qualities, most of those men were fighters and strong men that loved the Lord. That’s a mantra I want to be known for. I want to be a strong man and a warrior with a soft heart when it comes to God.”

Simpson said he believes it was God who brought the Simpson-Tesori tandem together.

“We talk about our faith on and off the golf course … and I think maybe he wanted that, and ultimately, I think prayer is what led him to say yes,” Simpson told PGATour.com. “I think he and (Tesori’s wife) Michelle prayed about it and felt like God was leading him in my direction.”

Tesori, who is 12 years older than Simpson, was himself a professional golfer in the late 1990s and won an NCAA Championship while in college at Florida. Throughout Simpson’s growth as a golfer, Tesori has been able to give advice on his swing and on how to approach a golf course in new and helpful ways.

With the newly formed golfer-caddie pair, the results were immediate.

Simpson ended the 2011 season with 12 top-10s, 21 top-25s, a second-place finish in the FedEx Cup and wins at the Wyndham Championship and the Deutsche Bank Championship. Simpson went from 213th in the world to 1oth.

The following year, Simpson captured the 2012 U.S Open. In 2018, he won The Players Championship. Simpson exceeded Tesori’s expectations, and Tesori said he learned not to place his own finite limits on what God can do. Tesori explained his own walk with God on the Sports Spectrum Podcast earlier this year.

Simpson credited his partnership with Tesori as the turning point in his professional career.

“He could see my desire to improve and to get better,” Simpson told PGATour.com. “I could see his wealth of knowledge on the golf course. Not only the golf course but the golf swing. And I think the more you trust someone, it’s almost like that trust that keeps growing and growing and growing. And that just stuck.”

Simpson’s bond with Tesori extends far beyond the golf course.  Tesori, Michelle and their two kids are often found spending time with Simpson, his wife, Dowd, and their five children. Simpson and Tesori have many of the same interests and hobbies, and at the center of it all is a shared faith in Christ.

When Tesori agreed to take the job, Simpson said he gained a lifelong friend.

“We spend all day together, we love hanging out with each other, we talk about great things, we laugh a lot, we love similar things away from the game like the NBA,” Simpson said. “… I truly think it is one of the deepest friendships that I have.”

All told, Simpson has seven career PGA Tour victories, including two this season. He’s ranked third in the FedEx Cup standings and sixth in the world. All of his victories have come under Tesori’s tutelage. Tesori has seen the fruits of the friendship as well.

“Webb’s impact on my life goes so far beyond golf … I just look up to the man in every single aspect of his entire life,” Tesori said. “I want to be the dad that he is. I want to be the husband that he is. I want to be the friend that he is, the follower of Jesus that he is, the brother that he is.

“The guy at times doesn’t seem real to me. And he gets bashful and he actually doesn’t like it when I talk like that. But it’s just the way I feel. And a ton of people feel that way too. He is the most kind human being I’ve ever been around, and well-rounded person. And it’s been wonderful to get to know him, to watch him grow over the last 10 years.”

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