Simpson survives Sawgrass scare to win Players Championship
Webb Simpson has lifted the Players Championship trophy at TPC Sawgrass. The 32-year-old’s score of 270 put the American on -18, four shots ahead of the chasing pack.
Despite being ranked a lowly 41st in golf’s official ranking list, Simpson claimed the prestigious Players Championship event that was held at TPC Sawgrass. A credible 66 in round one was followed by a spectacular 63 in the second round.
Although he scored 68 in the third-round, Simpson had a commanding lead going into the final day. Pressure seemed to be getting to the 2012 US Open winner as he hit 73 in the final round but Simpson was able to ignore the feverish support for Tiger Woods and hold on to claim victory.
Going into the final day of play, Simpson had a commanding seven-stroke lead over the chasing pack. A resurgent Tiger Woods was producing some of his best golf for many years and was close to replicating the form that had seen the 42-year-old win 32 times on the PGA Tour from 1999 through to 2003.
When Tiger birdied the 12th, Simpson’s lead was down to four but a disastrous 17th saw the 14-time major winner double bogey to effectively hand the title to Simpson.
33-year-old Charl Schwartzel, 39-year-old Jimmy Walker and 24-year-old Xander Schauffele all finished the final round with a score of 67 which meant the 2nd place was split between the three golfers.
The highlight of the final round was the incredible Brooks Koepka. In the front nine at Sawgrass he scored four-under. His pace dropped on the back, managing to make par on the next four holes. He secured his fifth birdie of the day on the 14th and hit par on the 15th but it was his impressive effort at the 16th hole that will live forever in the memories of the supporters who were lucky enough to witness it.
Kopeka hit a 307-yard drive to leave him 208-yards from the pin. Assessing the situation he chose to go with a 6-iron and hits one of the sweetest shotsyou are ever likely to see in golf, securing an astonishing albatross. In doing so he became only the fourth person in Players history to do so.
The outstanding shot meant that the reigning U.S. Open champion matched the achievement of Hunter Mahan who scored an albatross in the second round in 2007 from 227 yards, Peter Lonard who made his from 229 yards also in 2007 and last year’s unbelievable effort from Rafa Cabrera Bello who hit a 182-yard shot with his 8-iron that had a physics defying kick that secured the first-ever albatross at the par-5 16th hole.
Koepeka finished tied in eleventh place with a score of 277, this was mainly due to his third-round score of 74. If he had been able to replicate his course record equalling fourth round score of 63 in previous rounds, the 28-year-old American would have been the one lifting the trophy.
Most of the narrative after the Sawgrass event was the form of Tiger Woods. Woods will always be part of golfing history and the player who had won 10 majors honours before his 30th birthday looked to have put his injury problems behind him.
Woods was challenging in second place but mistakes at the 15th and 17th effectively ruled him out of the race and he finished in seventh. Six birdies in the fourth round showed the veteran can still mix it with the best. This coupled with a second placing at the Valspar Championship has raised Tiger’s fans hopes but with his advanced age and a niggling back problem it is difficult to see golf’s greatest ever star reclaiming the throne he held for so long.