Simpson ties course record with 9-under 63
May 11, 2018
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- May 11, 2018
Webb Simpson’s birdie run from 13-15 at THE PLAYERS
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Webb Simpson was on pace to set a course record at TPC Sawgrass, and notions of a 59 even entered his head.
Then he got to the island-green 17th.
Simpson found the water and suffered a double bogey, the only blemish on an otherwise spectacular round of golf Friday afternoon in which he tied a course-record with a 9-under 63.
In the process, he took a commanding five-stroke lead through 36 holes of THE PLAYERS Championship, and will enter the weekend as the prohibitive favorite.
“Just a fun day,” Simpson said. “And it's rare as a golfer where everything is working well -- driving, iron play, chipping and putting -- and today everything came together.”
Simpson was the seventh player in tournament history to shoot 63, the last five since 2013. Jason Day (first round) and Colt Knost (second round) did it most recently in 2016.
Simpson finished his day at 15-under 129, tying the 36-hole tournament record set by Day two years ago.
Day led by four shots after 36 holes, which had been the largest 36-hole lead at THE PLAYERS until Simpson set the new standard Friday. Day won that year and no player who’s led by three or more shots after 36 holes has ever lost THE PLAYERS. Simpson hopes to join that group on Sunday.
Simpson’s closest pursuers are Charl Schwartzel (66), Patrick Cantlay (68) and Danny Lee (66) at 10 under.
Simpson’s not celebrating just yet.
“You know, if I can shoot 9-under today, a guy can go out and shoot 7-, 8-, 9-under tomorrow, and shrink it pretty quickly,” he said.
“I think it's a beautiful golf course in the sense that I could go shoot a few under tomorrow because there's birdie holes out there, but if you're off a little bit, you make bogeys or double bogeys as easy as you can make birdies. I don't think any lead is safe.”
Simpson eagled the par-5 second with a 34-foot putt to set the tone for the day. He added three birdies before the turn with putts from outside 10 feet.
Then on the back side, starting at the par-5 11th, he reeled off six consecutive birdies. It was another record he tied at THE PLAYERS, and had him at 11 under on his round with three holes to play. and the thought of 59 briefly crossed his mind.
"I didn't know anything about a course record or 36-hole record or anything like that, but I've broken 60 a couple of times, so I'm thinking about it a little bit."
Then he got to 17. His tee shot struck the bulkhead, bounced onto the other side of the green, and then rolled into the water.
"I'm still trying to be disciplined on 17 and hit it -- we always try to land it 12 on the green there, and I was in between clubs and tried to smash a sand wedge and blocked it a little bit," Simpson said. "It was unfortunate, to be honest with you guys, I felt pretty good on the tee. It's a bummer, but I wanted to play 18 pretty solid, just to end the day well, and I think I did that."
Simpson finished up with par to end his spectacular day, which captivated the rest of the players on this hot day at TPC Sawgrass in which Tiger Woods made the cut on the number after shooting a 71 in the morning wave.
Jordan Spieth, who also made the cut on the number, said it was the topic of conversation with his playing partners Justin Thomas (who also made the cut) and Rory McIlroy (who did not).
"We were like, man, I hope he shoots 59," Spieth said. "We were hoping for it. And at the same time, we're saying, if he shoots 59, can you imagine how hard the set-up's going to be tomorrow?"
If indeed the set-up is difficult, it won't matter to Simpson if he plays anywhere close to the level he exhibited on Friday.
"The most entertaining golf in our group was watching Webb's score," said Justin Rose, who's at 4 under after an even-par 72. "... It's a miracle round."