Superb Simpson dominates The Players Championship
Webb Simpson stole the headline at The Players Championship with a flawless four days of golf to lift the title at TPC Sawgrass.
Simpson was the star performer across four thrilling days, which saw a Champion Golfer re-discover his brilliant best, a major winner equal a course record and the coronation of a new world number one. Here’s what happened:
Simpson blasts the field away
Since winning the US Open in 2012, Webb Simpson has rarely competed for the game’s biggest prizes but he reminded everyone of his obvious talent with a storming win at TPC Sawgrass.
A quiet final round was out of sync with three perfect days, where he registered scores of 66, 63 and 68 to take control of the PGA Tour’s flagship event.
The American held a seven-shot lead from New Zealand’s Danny Lee overnight but he rarely looked flustered – playing solid golf on his way to the title.
The likes of Jason Dufner, Lee, Jimmy Walker and Tiger Woods all threatened to make a serious charge but with Simpson not faltering, they were only ever competing for second.
Poppin' bottles. 🍾 pic.twitter.com/HQs5pBY4qZ— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 14, 2018
The win marked Simpson’s first trophy in five years and the 32-year-old admits it ranks alongside his US Open triumph.
"It feels great. I am exhausted. It was a long day and it is actually probably harder work to be ahead by five or six than near the lead,” Simpson said.
"I battled through, didn't have my best stuff today but it was good enough. I'll learn from it.
"It was tough. I tried to just stay busy this morning, reinforce that it was just one shot at a time - you have a tendency to want to fast forward and get it done. I had to pace myself and just stay in it."
Woods and Spieth light up Sawgrass
When two Champion Golfers play alongside each other, there is always an added edge and Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth gave the locals something to shout about on Sunday.
Their tournaments in the first three rounds were almost identical – with the first two rounds slow going before an electric Saturday brought them into contention.
Both hit superb 65s and were partnered alongside each other on Sunday, where a huge crowd followed them round as they looked to bridge the 11-shot gap to Simpson.
Woods took the initiative, birdieing three holes in a row to send the decibel levels through the roof before his momentum stalled on the back nine.
A bogey at 14 hampered him and his charge ended when he found the water at 17. Yet it was progress and Woods showed again that he will be a major threat at Carnoustie in July.
“I played so well,” Woods said.
“I felt good with the putter all week even though I did not make anything in the first couple of days. I knew I was going to do it.
“I feel like I could have been right there. If I can get it rolling in the first couple of days then it will be good.”
For Spieth, it was a harder day but he showed glimpses of his best golf ahead of a crucial two months of the season leading into The Open.
Thomas becomes world number one
Justin Thomas’ meteoric rise to the top of the game is complete after he usurped Dustin Johnson at the top of the world rankings.
Stop and stare. 🌅 pic.twitter.com/0F1EGkFHu4— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 14, 2018
The 25-year-old, who won his maiden major at the PGA Championship last season, finishing superbly at TPC Sawgrass after a low-key start to the week.
A neat round of 66 saw him tie for 11th and Johnson’s 17th-place meant he took over at the top of the pile.
He said: "It means a lot, but it's something I want to have for a long time, it's not something I just want to have once.
“Like DJ and like Tiger and other guys who have had it for a long time, that's more of a goal of mine as opposed to just having it.”
Rose equals Sawgrass record
With Simpson, Woods and Thomas attracting much of the hype on Sunday, it allowed the rest of the field to go about their business quietly – and that certainly helped Justin Rose.
The Englishman equalled the record for consecutive birdies at TPC Sawgrass, sinking six in a row on the back nine to finish on nine-under.
"I really enjoyed the round, it was nice to chase a low score out there today," said Rose. "Obviously it wasn't happening really through eight holes but then I made six on the spin, which is fun.”
Maiden title for Lagergren
While Simpson pumped the air in Florida, there was an equally big celebration in Sicily as Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren claimed a maiden European Tour title.
The 26-year-old beat Mike Lorenzo-Vera in a play-off to take victory in the Rocco Forte Sicilian Open, despite starting the day two off the pace.
"I've been waiting for this moment my whole career," he said.