Published: Sun, May 13, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Webb Simpson runs lead to The Players Championship record 7 strokes

Webb Simpson runs lead to The Players Championship record 7 strokes

Rory McIlroy comes to mind.

"It was a good solid round", Lee said.

The sharpest round of the day came from...

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, whose 69 on Saturday moved him to 10 under par and into third place, could press the issue; or maybe it'll be Jordan Spieth, who matched Woods' 65 earlier in the day and was tied with the 14-time major champion at 8 under.

"I finally got off to a good start".

An eagle and nine birdies, including six in a row from the 11th, left Simpson needing to birdie the final two holes to join the elite group of players to break the magical 60 barrier on the PGA Tour. He was in range of the course record that eluded Simpson on Saturday.

"The wind seemed to be changing", he said, "and people were yelling at me to hit it". "Which was kind of nice".

Former world number one Spieth (68) and US PGA Championship victor Thomas (70) recovered from bad starts to stay alive in the field. He entered this week ranked 187 in strokes gained putting, but it was an entirely different story on Saturday. This time, he put his shot smartly on the green and listened to the growing cheer from the partying crowd as it slowly rolled within 3 feet, 4 inches of the cup. "I was just trying to shoot something in the mid-60s today, and managed to do it".

He just hasn't shown any signs of cracking.

There were plenty of marquee names who could not say the same.

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Reigning champion Newgarden trailed home 11th after his error, but holds onto the series lead, a mere two points clear of Rossi. Two-time INDYCAR Grand Prix victor Simon Pagenaud qualified seventh in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.

Rickie Fowler (71) - the 2015 victor - and four-time major champion McIlroy (74) were not so fortunate as they missed the cut.

Even better is playing the way Simpson has this week. And the 32-year-old Simpson has history on his side.

Simpson played the final seven holes in even par with a three-putt bogey at the 14th and a filthy shot on the par-3 17th that led to birdie and felt like revenge after yesterday's double bogey.

Various players made spirited attempts to close the gap on Simpson, most notably Woods who for two days largely hadn't hit the ball close enough and when he did repeatedly failed to convert crucial putts.

Simpson's 15-under total of 129 equaled the 36-hole tournament record set by Jason Day in 2015 and gave him a five-shot lead over South African Charl Schwartzel (66), New Zealand's Danny Lee (66) and Patrick Cantlay (68).

Spieth saved his best for the back nine with six birdies in eight holes, with the American pair moving into eight under.

But his tee shot at the par-three 17th hit the wooden bulkhead surrounding the green, soaring high into the air before hitting the surface and rolling into the drink.

There is another Australian-held record Simpson can surpass on Sunday - Steve Elkington's seven-shot triumph in 1997 is the biggest victory margin at golf's unofficial fifth major. But they made up only three shots on Simpson and were 11 shots behind. He finished the day with a par putt from 18 feet.

The way he's gone through three days - tying Norman for the 54-hole scoring record - it's hard to envision a collapse from the 2012 U.S. Open champion. - Nothing in Webb Simpson's run-up to the 2018 Players Championship suggested Greg Norman's record 264 score was within reach.

Simpson now has a great chance to pick up a massive win on Mother's Day less than a year after his father passed away after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. I didn't have much of what I wanted. "I knew I had to be more aggressive today and I was able to convert". I was with her last week in Charlotte, so this would be an wonderful Mother's Day present for her.

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