Simpson wraps up Sawgrass win

Tiger Woods hits a shot from the 11th tee during the third round of The Players Championship on Saturday in Ponte Vedra Beach Fla. | John Raoux  AP

Tiger Woods hits a shot from the 11th tee during the third round of The Players Championship on Saturday in Ponte Vedra Beach Fla. | John Raoux AP

Simpson played golf at Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina and later attended Wake Forest University, where he also played golf.

"I really played really good today".

"There is no way I would have predicted I would be at this point at the beginning of the year", said Woods. He led the field in SG: tee to green and sand saves.

Former Masters champion Adam Scott, who was also affected by the ban, joked: "I hope he doesn't putt too well with that thing up his arm or they'll ban that, too".

Woods was 11 under on the front, including a scorching 10 under during the weekend after making the cut on the number. By the time Woods teed off, he had dropped to a tie for 17th.

The only question that remained was would he break Greg Norman's 1994 scoring record of 24-under par for the tournament? He shot 15-under through 36 holes; three players were tied for second.

Then he made himself a prophet starting on a tranquil morning Saturday when he ruined the quiet ambiance by making plenty of noise with birdies on eight of his first 12 holes. "I hit a lot of good, quality shots". "I thought I was going to have a hard time keeping it up top, and I spun it off the ridge. Just didn't go in". The idea that Woods might somehow triumph survived until the penultimate hole, the perilous par-3, where he dunked his ball in the aqua. But this time, he pounded a driver 355 yards into the fairway and had the short distance to the flag.

He bogeyed the par-three eighth but promptly recovered that shot with a birdie at the par-five ninth.Simpson produced his shot of the day at the par-five 11th, where he sent his second shot some 33 yards past the hole and into a rear greenside bunker.

And with mom on his mind on Mother's Day, Simpson finished off the job Sunday, shooting a 1-over-par 73 to finish with a four-day total of 18-under 270.

"It means everything to me", Simpson said.

"You're not sure if it's just because it landed close but then the roars kept going so we figured it went in. It was unlucky there".

"He's clearly playing some really good golf", fellow golfer Jason Day said. Woods is now No. 80 in the world.

Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, Jimmy Walker and Xander Schauffele tied for second at 14 under par, with Jason Day of Australia and Jason Dufner knotted in fifth another stroke in arrears. He was the first in THE PLAYERS Championship history to have a five-shot lead after two rounds. He will move from 53rd to 48th in the FedEx Cup standings. Among the first-time players is Xander Schauffele, who won the Tour Championship a year ago.

'And one of my goals is to get into Akron [the name of the course used at Bridgestone] one last time before we leave there. It is moving to Memphis, Tennessee, after this year.

Woods' last PGA Tour win came at the WGC-Bridgestone in 2013, when he beat Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson by seven shots. "He's certainly playing well enough to do so".

While a big lead looks like a foregone conclusion from the outside, Simpson confirmed it was a less than comfortable position for the man in the arena. "I'm not that far off winning golf tournaments".

Woods, who will next play at the Memorial the first week of June in advance of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock, called his weekend play "extremely positive". It would have been a fitting way to celebrate the last time THE PLAYERS was held in May.

"It was one of those professional pushes", Koepka admitted on PGA Tour Live. And he has some confidence. "I didn't know. But now I feel like I've got my playing feels and I'm playing tournament golf and I've got it".

Lee started strongly with two early birdies but couldn't get much happening beyond that. "I felt like I had control of it today".

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