An “exhausted” Webb Simpson vowed to learn from a tough final round after ending his barren spell at the Players Championship on Sunday. These past 4 1⁄2 years had been a hard grind. I sat up here and said let’s give him the starts, let’s give him the summer, let’s give him the year, let’s see if he can gain some of the freedom he needs.
A tournament-record 69 players finished under par for the 72 holes. The point is, he did not break. Everything felt good. I had control, I was hitting it high, low, right, left, didn’t matter what it was. With just 18 holes remaining in the US$11 million (Dh40.3m) tournament at TPC Sawgrass, Simpson was seven clear of New Zealand’s Danny Lee, who carded a 70 for 204. Having not won on the PGA Tour since 2013 in Las Vegas, he’d gone through extreme depths trying to figure out his putting when, in 2016, the U.S. Golf Association eliminated the anchored stroke he’d used since his freshman year of college. “And he’s making everything [on the greens]”.
The first of these fateful events for Simpson was connecting with veteran caddie Paul Tesori in 2010 after Tesori had been fired by Sean O’Hair. There was a moment Sunday when Simpson bogeyed and Woods was staring down a makeable birdie putt. “Every day that I putt well, I’m just thankful that I had another day”. Woods didn’t do anything spectacularly wrong the rest of the way, he just didn’t convert and dropped his lone shot on the 14th with a drive into thick rough that kept him from reaching the green.
Simpson’s three-round total matched the tournament record set by Australian Greg Norman in 1994 en route to a four-stroke victory.
Simpson started with an 8-foot birdie. He spoke of his father, Sam, who died last fall.
“This weekend was extremely positive”, Woods, who made the cut with nothing to spare, said on Sky Sports. And I wanted to do this for my mom. “She’s been praying for me”. If this is the Tiger we saw in the final two rounds then we will see him in the winner’s circle in 2018 maybe a few times.
The 32-year-old also led the field in strokes gained: putting (plus 9.368) with Odyssey’s Tank Cruiser V Line Long putter. Tesori, who has lived all his life near this course, was in tears at the trophy ceremony.
Webb Simpson had three great rounds and at times was 20 under par and had a huge lead.
“There’s so much noise in front of us with Tiger”, said Simpson. But he settled down after he birdied No. 11, getting home in two from the fringe. You don’t feel relaxed until that ball finds land on 17.
“It means everything to me”.
“This summer is – there are some big events to be played, and one of my goals is to get into Akron, one last time, before we leave there”. Woods chose a long iron off the 72nd tee when surely it was time to go for broke with the driver.