Go ahead and etch the name Webb Simpson into the crystal trophy of The Players Championship. After a second-round 63 and a 15-under two-day total, the golfer shot four-under-par Saturday to take a commanding seven-stroke lead over Danny Lee going into the final round on Sunday.
Not even a seven-under round by both Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods could outshine the calmness of Simpson’s game as he has been in charge of the tournament since the start on Thursday from the Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra, Florida.
As Dylan Dethier of Golf.com wrote, those who are chasing the leader have some serious work to do,
“It would have been understandable had the 36-hole leader faltered on Saturday; sleeping with the lead is notoriously difficult,” Dethier wrote. “Instead, Simpson expanded his five-shot cushion with a cool-as-can-be four-under 68 that has him in pole position to claim his fifth Tour title but first since the 2013 Shriners.”
Fans were hoping for a shootout or a close finish to the day and possibly a tightly contest round on Sunday, but that doesn’t look like it will materialize. When Woods and Spieth posted 65s for the morning round, there was much anticipation the two popular golfers could come within striking range.
Then Webb Simpson went back to work. He could not be stopped. He played the role of surgeon carving up a course that usually tests the greatest golfers’ skills. This has been made to look easy with scoring well above average as a whole. He added birdies at 4 and 9, but his day got a real boost at the 11th hole. Dethier wrote, “After his second shot ran over the back of the green and into a bunker, Simpson played a delicate shot that trickled just over a ridge in the middle of the green and clanked off the center of the flag and in for an eagle 3.”
The fans loved it and ate it up like it was a cool treat on a hot spring afternoon. Even the competition could only watch in awe and appreciate what was happening – history in the making.
“That’s an impressive three rounds,” Lee said. “It’s going very, very well for him. The scoreboard doesn’t affect me at all, I’m just out here playing golf and seeing what I can get.”
“I think I play the same no matter what,” Johnson said, though he added that no lead is necessarily safe. “If it’s windy tomorrow like it was today and you’re not very sharp, you’re going to struggle around here.”
While Simpson has won a major – the U.S. Open – this might be the signature win of his career. He has taking Sawgrass by the throat and has not released his grip. One can only hope he continues the surge on Sunday, where patrons will wear pink in honor of Mother’s Day.
“I’m trying to just look forward, you know, do what I always do on a Saturday night of a golf tournament and get ready tomorrow morning,” Webb Simpson said. “I’ve just got to keep going and take my chances when I can.”