The Players Championship highlights: Webb Simpson holds off charging Tiger Woods to win

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 13: Webb Simpson of the United States plays his shot from the eighth tee during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 13, 2018 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 13: Webb Simpson of the United States plays his shot from the eighth tee during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 13, 2018 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

Here’s how the final round at the 2018 edition of The Players Championship played out.

Coming into the final round of The Players Championship, it was going to be insanely difficult for anyone to catch Webb Simpson. Entering Sunday with a seven-stroke lead, it was going to take a Greg Norman-esque collapse at the 1996 Masters for the 2012 U.S. Open champ to lose at TPC Sawgrass.

Simpson did indeed capture the title on Sunday afternoon, winning by four strokes to capture his first victory on the PGA Tour since the Shriners in 2013 and just his second since that win at the Olympic Club six years ago. But that doesn’t mean that things didn’t get interesting for a little while as a number of players made runs, including a little charge by some guy in a red shirt named Tiger Woods.

Following a blistering, 7-under round of 65 on Saturday, his lowest-ever round at The Players, Tiger still began the day 11 strokes back of Simpson in a tie for ninth, which is quite amazing considering he began his weekend sitting in a tie for 68th after just making the cut (tell me you’ve heard that conspiracy theory of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas purposely making bogeys at the last on Friday to get Woods to the weekend).

Playing alongside Spieth, it was clear to see that Tiger was feeling good to open his day, blasting a 313-yard drive down the left side of the fairway.

Following pars on the first two holes, Tiger got the birdie train rolling at the third, hitting his tee shot at the par-3 to just over 15 feet and knocked in the putt to get to 9-under.

Woods kept his momentum going at the 384-yard, par-4 4th hole as both he and Spieth hit their approach shots close to set up birdies.

Not quite ready to get off that train just yet, Tiger hit another monstrous tee shot at the 5th, a 320-yard missile down the fairway. With 139 yards left to the hole, he hit his approach to just under 18 feet and rolled in the putt for his third consecutive birdie to get to 3-under for the day and 11-under for the tournament. He was eight back of Simpson’s lead at this point but had climbed into the top five.

Tiger Woods obviously wasn’t the only one chasing Webb Simpson on Sunday afternoon. 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 nearly making an ace.

Keegan Bradley also made a little charge on his way to a 66, getting to 12-under for the tournament, which was good enough for a top 10.

Following pars at the 6th and 7th, Tiger found a little trouble off the tee at the 237-yard, par-3 8th but was able to recover nicely from the green side bunker to save par and followed that up with a birdie on the 9th to shoot 32 on the front side to get to 12-under, seven shots back of Simpson.

After six straight pars to open his final round, Simpson finally got something going, making birdie at the 7th to get to 20-under for the tournament, increasing his lead back to six.

Also making some noise at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday was former world number one Jason Day, who made birdies at the 2nd and the 4th to get to 11-under and then made a marvelous eagle from the sand at the par-5 9th to move into a tie for third.

With Simpson a few groups behind him continuing to play conservatively, Tiger maintained his aggressive style and nearly made eagle at the par-5 11th before settling for a birdie to get to 13-under and into the top three.

After catching a great break off the tee at the 12th after his ball hit a tree and bounced back into the fairway, Tiger made his sixth birdie of the day to get within five of the lead, a deficit that shrunk to four when Simpson bogeyed the 10th.

After a par at the 13th, Tiger came to the tee at the 481-yard, par-4 14th, the longest par-4 at TPC Sawgrass, and absolutely destroyed his golf ball, blasting it 354 yards down the fairway.

Unfortunately for Woods, he spun his approach shot a bit too much and missed the green. Choosing to putt, he left himself eight and a half feet for par and after making so many of these this week, he missed and essentially ended his chance of winning The Players. The bogey dropped him back to 13-under, six shots back with four to play.

As everyone else began to make mistakes, Webb Simpson maintained his composure and followed up his bogey at the 10th with a birdie at the par-5 11th to get back to even for the day and 19-under for the tournament.

Jordan Spieth didn’t have the greatest day in the world, including a disastrous quadruple-bogey at the 18th to shoot 74, but his tee shot at the 17th was certainly fun to watch.

As for Tiger, he didn’t have quite as much fun, hitting the water at the famed hole for the first time in 13 years en route to a double-bogey.

A par at the final hole gave Tiger a final-round 69, which he says he was disappointed with after hitting the ball so well. However, after just making the cut on the number and shooting 65-69 on the weekend against the strongest field in all of golf, a tie for 11th doesn’t look so bad.

As I said in the opener, it was going to be tough for anyone to catch Webb Simpson on this day. After Tiger took himself out of the running, Danny Lee fell off as well and even with talented players behind him scratching and clawing their way around this track, including former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, former PGA champions Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner and reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, Simpson just stayed the course and simply didn’t make any big mistakes coming down the stretch, which is exactly what he needed to do.

He made birdie at the par-5 16th to get to 20-under and made a fantastic two-putt par at the 17th. He got a little aggressive on his approach at the 18th and went in the water. But even with the double-bogey at the last, Simpson finished at 18-under and finally got back in the winner’s circle.

Congratulations to Webb Simpson, the 2018 Players Champion.

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