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Simpson Scorches Sawgrass But Oh What Could Have Been

It was an amazing round of golf but Webb Simpson surely must be wondering what might have been (Photo: Getty Images)
A 63 at TPC Sawgrass is never to be sneezed at but Webb Simpson must surely be wondering what might have been.

The 2012 US Open champion stepped to the tee of the dramatic and treacherous par-3 17th at 11-under for his round and on track to smash the 9-under course record.

But as it has done to so many in the past, the famed island green stopped him in his tracks, his sand wedge ricocheting off the bulkhead and finding water over the back of the green.

It was just one extraordinary moment in a day that was full of them not only for Simpson but some of the biggest names in the game.

Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy were among those to miss the weekend while Sweden’s David Lingmerth made one of  the most unusual bogeys in recent memory.

 

Tiger Woods produced another lacklustre round but with 72-71 scraped into the weekend and will still harbour hopes of finding some magic over the final 36 holes.

Jordan Spieth was impressive in coming back from an opening 75 to sign for a 68 and make the cut while both Jason Day and Adam Scott are in good position with two rounds remaining.

All of that, however, paled in comparison to the play of Webb Simpson whose statistics tell the story of a player dominating the course and the field.

The 32-year-old has a five-shot cushion over Charl Schwartzel, Patrick Cantlay and Danny Lee and four from Chesson Hadley and Charles Howell III.

But it is how he got there, tying the best opening 36 hole record set by Jason Day in 2016, a stunning display of both ball striking and putting leaving analysts almost speechless.

Simpson hit 85 per cent of the fairways and almost 78 per cent of the greens but it was with the flatstick he really impressed.

His Strokes Gained Putting for the second round was just shy of five shots better than the field to go along with an advantage of just over four shots on the opening day.

“I felt like everything was working today,” he told Golf Channel’s Steve Sands after the round.

“Putts that I was just trying to get close were going in so I just rode the momentum  and kept going.”

He said the 15th hole, where his ball rolled over the back edge after almost hitting the flag, was a prime example of how things went his way.

Taking the putter from an awkward spot he holed the shot to get to 10-under for the day.

“That one was hit way too hard,” he said. “It would have gone 7 or 8 feet by but thankfully hit the middle of the hole because any other part of the hole and it’s probably not going in.”

While disappointed with what happened at the 17th, where he backed off several times before finally hitting his shot, Simpson said he won’t have any trouble putting it out of his mind.

“I backed off a couple of times because the wind seemed to be changing,” he said.

“Honestly I felt pretty good over it but just blocked it a little bit. I was trying to smash it and I don’t think it was a mistake, just the wrong club probably.

“But I’ll be easily able to block out 17 and take all the positives from today.”

RULES - GRASS COVERED AREA IN BUNKER:

 

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