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Woods Surges But Simpson Cruises to Players Title

Webb Simpson pocketed US$1.98 million for his Players Championship victory.
A charging Tiger Woods provided some Sunday excitement but ultimately Webb Simpson sucked the life out of the final round of The Players Championship as he cruised to a four-shot victory.

Starting the day seven ahead, the 2012 US Open champion did precisely what was required in the final round, a 1-over 73 seeing him to 18-under for the tournament and a comfortable win despite making a mess of the 72nd hole.

Charl Schwartzel, Jimmy Walker and 2017 Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele shared second place with Jason Day and Jason Dufner sharing fifth.

Simpson’s win was hardly a surprising result as nobody had coughed up a seven-shot lead in the history of the PGA Tour and the 32-year-old never looked like becoming the first.

However, that didn’t stop the field from applying pressure and it was the rejuvenated Tiger Woods who led the charge early with some vintage play.

As he did Saturday, the 14-time major winner bolted out the gates and was 4-under at the turn and 6-under walking off the 12th green.

The nearest he got to Simpson, however, was four shots and when he hit a submerged log with a bogey at the 14th it was all but a coronation for the 54-hole leader.

Others surged at various times during the day but all, like Woods, eventually faltered as Simpson ground out one solid hole after another.

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.

“It was tough,” he told Steve Sands moments after holing the winning putt. “Being in that position is a lot harder than I thought.

“You always want to be leading going into the final round and you would think leading by seven’s great but it’s hard to stay motivated to continue doing what you’ve been doing.”

With 107 starts since his last victory, Simpson said to win such a big event was special - particularly after a putting tip from former winner Tim Clark at this event last year played a crucial role in the result.

Danny Lee hit one of the shots of the week en route to a 72nd hole par

“It’s big. I mean, I love this golf tournament and it was here last year where I got that lesson so I think it’s pretty special that a year later we come out with the victory,” he said.

Jason Day finished the best of the Australians after a final round 68, Adam Scott also having a good week for his best finish of the 2018 season.

Woods provided the bulk of the excitement for the day but after he spun a lob wedge approach off the front of the 14th green en route to a momentum-killing bogey, he made another big mistake with wedge in hand at the the treacherous par-3 17th.

His tee shot came up short and right of the island green, marking the first time in 13 years he'd found the water at the famous hole.

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

“I played so well this weekend but unfortunately I just didn’t cash it in,” he said.

“It was really special, especially today. God, I hit the ball good and only ended up with 69.”

While clearly taking confidence from some vintage play Woods will be less than pleased at not finishing off either of his weekend rounds, both of which could have been spectacular.

In just his eighth start since returning from back surgery, a T11 finish at the fifth most important tournament in the game is impressive and the former World Number One continues to show glimpses of the form which made him the most dominant player in the game.


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