Simpson makes history, Tiger takes another step
May 14, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Webb Simpson's Round 4 highlights from THE PLAYERS
Welcome to The Monday Finish where Webb Simpson took apart the best field in golf at THE PLAYERS Championship like it was 2012 when he won the U.S. Open. But to be fair the 2018 version of Simpson is probably even better.
Here are five observations and insights from TPC Sawgrass where Simpson completed a remarkable resurrection to the top echelons of golf and stamped himself a man to watch going forward.
1. Simpson showed composure late
Webb Simpson didn’t just win THE PLAYERS Championship – he dominated it. How can you not be impressed with his four-shot win? He was six in front on the 18th fairway on Sunday before playing one of the few loose shots of his four-day effort. No one had ever lost a seven-shot lead on the PGA TOUR – a record that would bring its own brand of pressure. So when he bogeyed a couple of holes around the turn at the same time Tiger Woods was eliciting huge roars with a birdie blitz, it could have been a moment to implode. Especially for a guy in the midst of a very long win drought. But Simpson stayed composed and steadied the ship, showing a steel reminiscent of his younger years when he won four times in just over two years. More wins could easily start flowing now. Read Mike McAllister’s column in the win here. And read Sean Martin’s in depth look at Simpson’s special relationships that helped him succeed here.
2. Putting lesson revives Simpson's career
The Simpson putting resurrection is nothing short of incredible. After being forced away from his preferred anchored putting style Simpson went from being ranked inside the top 53 players for Strokes Gained: Putting from his debut year in 2009 through the 2014 season to a basement ranking of 174th in 2015 and 177th in 2016. But after getting a tip from former PLAYERS winner Tim Clark it came to pass that Simpson found his comfort again. And after dominating the field in putting this week he moved his season ranking to fifth in Strokes Gained: Putting. With his accurate ball striking making up for a lack of length, Simpson is the real deal again. Read more about his putting here.
3. Woods well ahead of schedule
Tiger Woods is ready to win. That’s the takeaway from TPC Sawgrass after he rallied brilliantly after making the cut on the number. His 65-69 weekend showed he has what it takes to go low, even if the late flame out still happened on Sunday to see him finish T11. Woods played Nos. 1-12 in 14 under on the weekend but Nos. 13-18 in 4 over. Once he marries everything up over a four-day period he could easily find himself lifting up PGA TOUR title no. 80. Read more on Tiger’s surge here.
4. Thomas makes big move
We have a new world No. 1 in FedExCup leader Justin Thomas after his finish at TPC Sawgrass was enough to usurp Dustin Johnson. It has been a huge couple of years for Thomas with a FedExCup win and a maiden major amongst his triumphs. The back half of the PGA TOUR season is set to be sensational as Thomas, Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy all try to lay claim on the top spot in the world and in the FedExCup. Read how Thomas reacted to the news of his ascension here.
5. Koepka back to form after injury
It appears current U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is over his wrist injury after his awesome course record equaling 9-under 63 in the final round. The highlight of the round was obviously the 208-yard 6-iron for albatross on the par-5 16th. It was just the fourth albatross in PLAYERS history and the second on the 16th. Having been limited to starts this season thus far thanks to surgery Koepka seemed destined to be a passenger in his U.S. Open defense. But now he is looking like he might be a genuine contender once more. Read about his record round here.
As Heard Around the World: Webb Simpson wins THE PLAYERS
1. With his win, Simpson moved to eighth place in the FedExCup and 20th in the world rankings. It is his first time back in the world top-20 since February 2014. Simpson improves to No. 3 in scoring average on TOUR in 2017-18 at 69.455; Dustin Johnson leads at 69.198.
2. Simpson gained 9.368 strokes on the field in the Strokes Gained: Putting category at TPC Sawgrass to be well clear at the top. It moved his season rank in the statistic to fifth.
3. Simpson led the field in driving accuracy (82.1%) but ranked last (71st) in driving distance at 280.5 yards. He had the most fairways hit (46/56) by a champion at THE PLAYERS since Fred Funk hit 48 in 2005.
4. There were 65 eagles made on the week, the most in THE PLAYERS history and most in the 2017-18 season.
5. Simpson set and tied multiple PLAYERS records: Set largest 36-hole lead (5 strokes; previous: 4, Jason Day 2016); Set largest 54-hole lead (7 strokes; previous: 5, Alex Cejka 2009); Set low middle 36-hole score (13-under 131; previous: 12-under 132, Ken Duke 2016); Tied low 54-hole score (19-under 197; tied Greg Norman 1994); Tied low 36-hole score (15-under 129; tied Jason Day 2016); Tied low 18-hole score (9-under 63 Round 2; tied now with seven others); Tied most consecutive birdies (6 – Holes 11-16 Round 2; tied now with nine others); Tied high finish by a winner at TPC Sawgrass (73; tied David Duval 1999).