Webb Simpson could have shot a round of 59
Simpson, 32 had tournament officials delving into the history books when the former US Open champion birdied six holes in succession from the 11th hole to 16th hole and storm his way to 17-under par and an incredible seven strokes clear of his rivals.
Simpson had tournament officials delving into the tournament record books when the former US Open champion birdied six holes in succession from the 11th hole to 16th hole to storm his way to 17-under par and seven strokes clear of his rivals.
The North Carolina native then looked on in anguish as his tee shot at the 17th hit the front wooden bulkhead soaring high into air before hitting the back of the green and then rolling into the hazard.
The highest of highs.
To the lowest of lows. That’s golf.
Simpson then played his third from the ‘drop zone’ on route to a humbling double-bogey ‘5’ in an eventual course record-equalling nine-under par 63.
He now joins four others with Sawgrass rounds of 63.
Rickie Fowler missed the cut
You start just – like a kid, just kind of laughing
The amazing effort of a second hole eagle, nine birdies and the 17th hole double-bogey handed the World No.41 a 15-under par total and still a commanding five-shot leading cushion over his rivals.
Simpson set and also matched a number of Players Championship records namely:-
Equal course record of a nine-under par 63.
Equal the 36-hole total of a 15-under par 129 total set by Jason Day (2015).
Tied the number of consecutive birdies – 6 in succession (11 to 16 holes)
A new record 5-shot 36-hole lead.
“When you’re out there competing in a big tournament, you’re as focused as can be, but then at a certain point, maybe on 13 today, you start just – like a kid, just kind of laughing,” he said.
“Everything is going in. You feel like no matter what, you’re going to make it, and I grew up on an easy golf course, so it reminded me of being back home, shooting low numbers.
“At the same time you’re at TPC Sawgrass, so you know that trouble is everywhere, as you guys saw with me on 17.
“But it was just a fun day. And it’s rare as a golfer where everything is working well, driving, iron play, chipping and putting, and today everything came together”.
And Simpson, who has not tasted Tour success since capturing a fourth title in late 2014, will not want reminding that in the four times he’s made the Players cut he’s never bettered a third round 74.
But if Simpson should go onto to victory he needs only to win by eight shots to better the previous all-time winning margin by a stroke and set by Australia’s Steve Elkington set in 1997.
“I’m 15-under through two days here, which is a lot lower than I ever would have expected to be”, said Simpson.
“So, I’m just looking forward to getting some good dinner and some rest and coming out and enjoying it tomorrow. It’s a lot of fun to play good golf, and hopefully I can keep that up.”
Three players – South African Charl Schwartzel (66), Patrick Cantlay (68) and New Zealand’s Danny Lee (69) – share second place at a distant 10-under par.
Tiger Woods, and despite an anxious afternoon wait, ensured he will play all four rounds for a seventh time in eight events this year, posted a 71 to make the cut right on the one-under par mark.
Also finding their way to the weekend rounds, and also on one-under par, was Jordan Spieth (68) and Justin Thomas (70).
Missing the cut was Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Phil Mickelson.