Webb Simpson stretched seven shots clear of Danny Lee and Dustin Johnson heading into the final round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, and is chasing records as he closes in on the unofficial ‘fifth Major’.
Simpson has equalled the course record (63), as well as the 36-hole and 54-hole scoring records, and he now has more records within reach. Greg Norman shot the lowest 72-hole score in Players history in 1994. Simpson needs to shoot 67 on Sunday to tie that winning score of 24-under 264. Steve Elkington had the largest winning margin in tournament history when he won the 1997 Players by seven shots.
Simpson takes a seven-shot lead into the final round after shooting 68 to reach 19-under 197. Lee (70) is in second place. Johnson, the world No 1, is the only other player staring at a single-digit deficit.
South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel put together a one-over third round 73 to slide back into a tie for fourth position on nine-under 207 after impressive opening rounds of 68 and 66. Rory Sabbatini is tied for 16th two shots behind that following a second consecutive 71, while Tyrone van Aswegen is tied for 41st after a third round 70 for 212. One stroke behind that is Branden Grace after a 73 left him in a tie for 55th with one round to go.
But the week has all been about the American Simpson. ‘I feel like I’m playing good, solid golf, but… I’ve holed out a few times from off the green and made some long putts,’ he said. ‘To get that score, you have to do that.’
No one has ever lost a seven-shot lead on the PGA Tour. Seven players have lost six-shot leads. Johnson did it earlier this season at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
Both Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth ended the day in the top 10. After making the cut on the number, they took advantage of calmer morning conditions to shoot 65s.
After winning last week’s Wells Fargo Championship, Jason Day is in fourth place. The 2016 champion shot 71 on Saturday and sits at 207. FedExCup leader Justin Thomas shot 68 to move up to 33rd place at five-under 211.
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