Webb Simpson holds on to take Players Championship

Tiger Woods made an early run through the field at Sawgrass but he was too far back

Webb Simpson celebrates with his caddie Paul Tesori on the 18th green after winning during the final round of The Players Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Webb Simpson celebrates with his caddie Paul Tesori on the 18th green after winning during the final round of The Players Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

 

It is fair to assume Webb Simpson did not spend much time looking in his rear-view mirror. Had he done so, the image of a galloping Tiger Woods might have been sufficient to trigger Players Championship capitulation.

There was no such painful tumble for Simpson, who secured his first PGA Tour success since 2013. A closing 73 was sufficient to take the trophy by four, at 18 under par. Charl Schwartzel, Jimmy Walker and Xander Schauffele shared second.

Simpson’s seven-stroke lead after 54 holes was more than useful but the 32-year-old is due immense credit for his nerveless approach to Sunday . This marked an emotional scene for Simpson, whose father died at the end of last year.

Earlier Woods had threatened to achieve the impossible. The 14-times major champion had started day four 11 off the lead. Having reached the turn in 32 and produced birdies at the 11th and 12th, he was within four. It is hardly being unkind to Simpson to point out the vast wave of support that was by now behind Woods’ challenge.

Tiger Woods plays form the drop zone on the 17th hole during the final round. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Tiger Woods plays form the drop zone on the 17th hole during the final round. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The fairytale storyline was to come to an abrupt ending, a consequence both of Simpson’s unwillingness to reverse and Woods’ own failings. The 42-year-old badly miscued an approach to the 14th, which triggered his first bogey since the same hole a day earlier. Further trouble arrived at the 17th, where Woods found water from the tee. His 69 and tie for 11th did not really provide a fair reflection of his efforts from Saturday onwards but Woods still needs to convince that he can win in esteemed company.

“I felt good on basically every facet of the game today,” Woods said. “Not to really mis-hit a shot and only shoot three under par is just weird because I played much better than that. I didn’t play particularly well in the first couple of days but I turned it around this weekend and I got it rolling.

“There’s no way I would have predicted I would be at this point at the beginning of the year, the way I was just coming back and just trying to get a feel for it and then hopefully having a full schedule. Now I feel like I’ve got my playing feels. I’m not that far off from winning golf tournaments.”

Simpson, who is now $1.98m richer, can eye a Ryder Cup return – he represented the USA in 2012 and 2014 – plus the belated fulfilling of promise that was obvious when he prevailed at the US Open six years ago. In the intervening years Simpson has toiled, partly on account of the ban on an anchored putting stroke which he used to great effect.

The victor reeled off six pars to open his fourth round. A birdie at the 7th strengthened his position but he was to drop a shot at the par-three 8th. When Simpson recorded another bogey, at the 10th, eyes flicked towards Woods. Yet Simpson steadied himself immediately, producing key birdies at the 12th and 16th. Even the careless finding of a lake at the last was irrelevant.

Tommy Fleetwood’s 68 and 12 under could and should have been better but for a series of missed putts. The Englishman finished equal seventh. Jason Day matched Fleetwood’s fourth-round score, thereby ending up tied fifth with Jason Dufner. Shane Lowry added his third consecutive under par round with a 71 which saw him finish at five under. – Guardian service

Collated final scores & totals in the USPGA Tour The Players Championship, TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, United States of America (US unless stated, Irish in bold, par 72):

270 Webb Simpson 66 63 68 73

274 Xander Schauffele 68 68 71 67, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 68 66 73 67, Jimmy Walker 69 68 70 67

275 Jason Day (Aus) 69 67 71 68, Jason Dufner 72 69 66 68

276 Danny Lee (Nzl) 68 66 70 72, Keegan Bradley 69 69 72 66, Harold Varner III 71 67 70 68, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 69 71 68 68

277 Brooks Koepka 70 70 74 63, Tiger Woods 72 71 65 69, Justin Thomas 73 70 68 66, Adam Scott (Aus) 69 68 72 68, Ian Poulter (Eng) 70 69 69 69, Chesson Hadley 66 69 75 67

278 Dustin Johnson 66 71 69 72, Alex Noren (Swe) 66 69 77 66, Matt Kuchar 66 71 71 70, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 71 71 67 69, Charles Howell III 68 67 74 69, Jamie Lovemark 76 67 68 67

279 Richy Werenski 70 71 68 70, Steve Stricker 67 69 73 70, Scott Brown 70 71 69 69, Justin Rose (Eng) 68 72 73 66, Ryan Palmer 74 67 69 69, Patrick Cantlay 66 68 74 71, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 68 70 71 70

280 Grayson Murray 72 68 69 71, Rory Sabbatini (Rsa) 67 71 71 71, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 71 71 71 67, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 71 70 69 70, Cody Gribble 68 71 72 69, Chez Reavie 71 71 69 69, Ryan Moore 71 70 73 66

281 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 69 71 72 69, Nick Watney 70 72 72 67, Bryson DeChambeau 70 67 73 71, Billy Horschel 68 70 73 70

282 Ted Potter, Jr. 70 70 72 70, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 67 72 70 73, Brice Garnett 69 69 73 71, Jordan Spieth 75 68 65 74, Patrick Reed 72 68 70 72

283 Chris Kirk 70 71 70 72, Jason Kokrak 72 69 71 71, Chris Stroud 70 70 72 71, Beau Hossler 70 69 73 71, Austin Cook 72 70 71 70, Branden Grace (Rsa) 69 71 73 70, Kevin Na 69 71 72 71, Shane Lowry (Ire) 75 68 69 71, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tiw) 68 70 76 69, Kevin Tway 70 72 72 69, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 72 70 70 71

284 Tony Finau 70 72 71 71, Daniel Berger 74 68 72 70, Martin Laird (Sco) 72 71 70 71, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 76 67 68 73, Adam Hadwin (Can) 72 68 71 73, Bubba Watson 68 71 73 72

285 Marc Leishman (Aus) 71 71 67 76, Jon Rahm (Spa) 68 70 77 70, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 67 72 74 72

286 Tyrone Van Aswegen (Rsa) 74 68 70 74

287 J.J. Henry 72 71 69 75, Andrew Landry 67 75 71 74, Brandon Harkins 75 68 73 71

288 Sergio Garcia (Spa) 68 69 75 76

289 Ross Fisher (Eng) 70 73 73 73

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.