With any luck, Tiger Woods can be the next Webb Simpson

Emmett Rice
May 16, 2018

At this year's Players Championship, in adding his biggest win since his 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club, Simpson was quite glad that he did.

After finishing equal 11th at the Players Championship on Sunday, Tiger Woods declared himself ready to win another title.

Simpson suffered the jitters in Florida, but was able to seal his first victory for five years by a four-stroke margin following a one-over closing 73 to finish 18 under.

"I'm not that far off from winning golf tournaments, " Woods said, delivering his boldest statement of this comeback. Simpson's playing partner for the day, Danny Lee, who had entered the day at 12-under, had cut into the lead with a birdie at the 2nd and then followed it up with another at the 3rd after almost making an ace. Such was the case for Webb Simpson at the 2018 Players Championship. Birdies on each of the back-nine par-5s shut down any of his chasers' hopes.

Simpson's only big mistake didn't even matter. Simpson spoke about his play on the greens after the anchor ban.

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

"Being in that position is a lot harder than I thought", Simpson said. "It's hard to stay motivated and keep doing what you're doing". TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course plays at about 7,200 yards, and its lack of length coupled with its strategic elements means less drivers are hit than at most Tour stops.

Woods finished at 277, 11 under par and seven shots back of Simpson and three back of second-place finishers Charl Schwartzel, Jimmy Walker and Xander Schauffel. To win a major championship and few other tour events and then go over four years without a win.

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After starting the day 11 shots behind, he cut the deficit to four shots but then, just as he did in the third round when he made his lone bogey of the round on the 14th hole, Woods ran into trouble again on the hole. The two are close friends who worked through "two and a half years of miserable putting" to get to this point. All in all, I think he played like a 5- or 6-under round, nearly shot 7 or 8 and ended up with 3.

"I didn't miss a shot today", Woods said, "and so I'm not that disappointed with it". It's nice to finally shoot a low one.

Simpson tied the course record with a 63 in the second round when he seized control - even with a double bogey from the water on the 17th - and he tied Greg Norman's 54-hole record from 1994 at 19-under 197.

Woods recorded a hat-trick of birdies from the third and picked up another shot on the ninth to be out in 32, before narrowly missing from 25 feet for an eagle on the par-five 11th. They were at Sawgrass a year ago when Clark suggested that Simpson use a claw grip with that style of putter.

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.

Simpson dedicated the victory to his parents - his late father Sam who died last November, and his mother Debbie back home in Raleigh, North Carolina.

"He was basically back to square one after spending thousands of hours perfecting a perfectly fine method, " Scott said of Simpson. He began the final round looking up at Webb Simpson.

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