Webb Simpson eases to four-shot victory at Players Championship

Webb Simpson eases to four-shot victory at Players Championship

The victory was Simpson's fifth of his PGA Tour career, his first since he captured the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas in 2014, and his biggest since he won the 2012 U.S. Open.

While Woods didn't really get close enough to have an intimidatory effect on this occasion, fair play to Simpson, a former US Open victor, for landing his first victory since 2013 in real style.

Woods was already too far back of eventual victor Webb Simpson to mount a serious title challenge, but losing two shots on No. 17 meant slipping out of a tie for fifth and into 11th. It is played at one of the best layouts on tour.

The 14-time major champion hit eight birdies in his first 12 holes Saturday, carding his best ever score at TPC Sawgrass and briefly flirting with the lead. No birdie at the par five 16th and then, forced to gamble recklessly, came that poor tee shot to the celebrated 17th. With 139 yards left to the hole, he hit his approach to just under 18 feet and rolled in the putt for his third consecutive birdie to get to 3-under for the day and 11-under for the tournament.

While a big lead looks like a foregone conclusion from the outside, Simpson confirmed it was a less than comfortable position for the man in the arena. More importantly, his closest pursuer was the one guy whose appearance on a leaderboard still sends ripples around the course, even five years after his last win.

So much so that Simpson, a solid putter who had won four times, became one of its worst.

Woods had 110 yards to the pin, he belted a 60 degree wedge, only to see the ball spin back off the front of the green. The noise Woods was generating was off the charts and one question hung in the Florida air: he couldn't do it, could he? In the 2015 season, immediately before the ban, Simpson ranked 174th on TOUR in strokes gained putting. The bogey dropped him back to 13-under, six shots back with four to play. Jordan Spieth (74) quadruple bogeyed the 18th and tumbled to T-41.

Webb Simpson Witb 1

Despite the double bogey, however, it was a buoyant Woods who spoke to Steve Sands after his round.

After having tied a record by having gone so low through 54 holes, he did not even break par in the final round.

Woods just misses his eagle at 11, but makes birdie and is now a shot behind Lee, six off Simpson. "I hope he plays sooner rather than later", Duval said.

He cruised to the victory Sunday, fighting off a group of three who tied for second place at 274: Jimmy Walker and Xander Schauffele of the United States, and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.

He was unable to finish quite so strongly, finding water at the island-green 17th for a double-bogey.

Aggressive play on the closing holes cost Kiwi golfer Danny Lee second place in The Players Championship on Monday, halving his potential pay packet. Whether you love him or despise Tiger Woods-there does not seem to be much in-between with him, though it seems like an increasing portion of people are pulling for him-anyone in attendance or watching on television can not deny that Woods was the main event on Sunday.

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