Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Webb Simpson takes 5-shot lead at Players Championship

Webb Simpson takes 5-shot lead at Players Championship

The most impressive shot of his day (and possibly the one that shut down this tournament) came on the par-5 11th. Simpson stood up to several major champions on Saturday and swatted away their feeble attempts at cutting into his monstrous lead.

Woods had his best round on the Stadium Course with a 65 despite playing the final six holes in 1 over.

Simpson was on the verge of smashing the course record after reeling off six straight birdies but came to grief at the island-green par-three 17th.

"Unfortunately, the part of the ball that was showing was just all the white and dimples", said Fowler.

The consolation was enormous.

American Webb Simpson scored a course record-equalling 63 to establish a five-shot halfway lead at 15-under in the Players Championship in Florida.

"It's going to be firm and fast", he said of TPC Sawgrass. "I don't know, where is he at?"

At that point, all he could was laugh.

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At 9-under through 54 holes the 2016 victor is a full 10 shots behind but is T4 on the leaderboard and just three strokes out of second place. He kept backing off, consulting with his caddie as he tried to decide between sand wedge and pitching wedge.

The ball hit the wooden frame on the front of the green, caromed high in the air and landed on the back of the green with so much momentum that it rolled through the light collar of rough and disappeared into the water.

No one in PGA Tour history has failed to win an event with a seven-stroke lead entering the final 18 holes.

T4. Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker, Xander Schauffele, Jason Day, Charl Schwartzel (-9): Dufner pretty easily had the best day out of anyone in this group with a 6-under 66, but it's hard to see anyone here running down Simpson from 10 back and beating Johnson by a pair.

Tiger Woods at least gets to return on the weekend.

A further two Englishmen, Matt Fitzpatrick (70) and Ross Fisher (73), made the cut on two under and one under respectively, as did Scotland's Martin Laird (71).

Fans were hoping for a shootout or a close finish to the day and possibly a tightly contest round on Sunday, but that doesn't look like it will materialize. Rory McIlroy comes to mind. Simpson took that to another level. And then he saw a leaderboard.

"I'm trying to just look forward, do what I always do on a Saturday night of a golf tournament and get ready tomorrow morning", Simpson said. We should talk about him more than we do.

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The real challenge will be catching Simpson.

Simpson improved to 19-under 197, tying the 54-hole record set by Greg Norman in 1994. Tiger Woods was tied for ninth at 8-under. I think I'm nearly there, hitting the ball better. But in between he dropped a shot on Par-4 14th. They barely made the cut, but both stars shot seven-under rounds of 65.

Simpson was the seventh player to shoot 63, the last five since 2013. To be 11-under par, it's a shame he doesn't finish it off.

Even better is playing the way Simpson has this week.

But then in yet another stroke of brilliance this week from the current World No. 41 as Simpson proceeded to hole his third shot for an eagle "3".

While Woods was hot early in the third round, Spieth was at his best as the round came to an end.

The Woods-Spieth pairing, featuring two players who won the Masters as 21-year-olds, will be the second marquee pairing of the week for Woods.

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