Saturday, 26 May, 2018

Simpson ties course record, takes 5-shot lead

Tiger Woods chips onto the eighteenth green in the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship on Friday Tiger Woods chips onto the eighteenth green in the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship on Friday
Shannon Reynolds | 14 May, 2018, 11:12

Webb Simpson, the soft-spoken father of four with the salt-and-pepper beard who doesn't exactly have the look of a man accustomed to stepping on the throats of fellow competitors, carved up TPC Sawgrass for the third consecutive day on his way to a commanding seven-stroke advantage over Danny Lee.

Tiger Woods produced his best round since returning to PGA Tour action in January as he lit up the third day of The Players Championship. Woods hit bad drives at both No. 14 and No. 15 and played them in 1 over to drop back a bit.

Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth were among the big movers early on Saturday's play, but Simpson was continuing the fine form he showed on Thursday and Friday. His biggest hiccup was a missed birdie putt just outside five feet on the par-5 16th hole.

It seemed to come out of nowhere after two average rounds to start the week, but make no mistake - Woods has been building toward a day like this. An incredible tee shot on the course's famed par-3 17th hole set up this short birdie putt late in his round.

"I finally got off to a good start", Woods said.

"Eventually I was going to put all the pieces together and today, for the most part, I did that", Woods said.

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"I actually drove the ball unbelievably well the first two days, and I hit my driver really poorly today and shot 7-under". With a front pin in the bowl, he hit sand wedge and listened to thousands of fans surrounding the green cheer as the ball trickled down the slope to three feet for birdie.

"I mean to be eight-under there through 12, realistically I probably could have got a couple more out of it and got to 10 for the day", he said. Woods didn't disappoint him.

Woods posted a six-under score of 30 on his front nine, one stroke better than Webb Simpson's 31 en route to his course record-tying 63 on Friday. "It's definitely gettable. I know there's a lot of pressure coming down the back nine here, but I think these guys, the way they have setup the golf course today, it's set up for these guys to go low".

As far as Spieth is concerned, improvement with putter in hand will trigger the kind of spectacular run he is capable of. He is 12-under for the tournament, seven shots back from Simpson. "We're all nervous playing that hole, but an 11-under par round, that green I'm sure looks even smaller". I think that some of the guys will probably shoot better scores than I did out there.

"He's like, 'You hear the noise, but you're so focused on whatever you're doing you just blank it out, '" Varner said. "I've been trying so hard this week, try to go low tomorrow". "... These guys are going to tear this place apart". He made a 9-foot birdie putt at four and by the time he cashed 16-footer for birdie at five, word was out and the crowd was awake and the place was up for grabs. I think I was ideal inside of 10 to 15 feet today and anywhere inside, which was probably the first time this year.

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