The Players Championship ended yesterday with American golfer Webb Simpson winning the tournament. It was a tournament in which Simpson led most of the way and maybe got a bit anxious as his peers began to catch fire. The fact of the matter is his lead proved to be too insurmountable as the field had to go near perfect and hope for a miracle to thwart the steady competitor that was Simpson. The tournament provided many different story lines.
Lackluster Performer: Rory McIlroy
McIlroy found himself with a bit of unwanted idle time as he was cut from the tournament following day two of the Championship. This was all after high expectations he had for the tournament. The 29-year-old had too many blunders as he found himself behind 16 shots after shooting 74. He had shots landing in bunkers and in the water. His driving accuracy was abysmal as it was a 42.9 percent. McIlroy finished with seven bogeys and will have some soul searching to do before his next tournament appearance.
Most Unlucky: Rickie Fowler
Fowler started his Friday with high hopes and did things in a routine manner. He could not have been prepared for what happened next. He took a hack at the ball as it sat on his tee and what happened next is unprecedented. Fowler spent several minutes searching high and low before noticing his ball had landed in the most peculiar spot. This is not a joke as the ball landed in a tree. Say what you want about McIlroy, but he didn’t have the most bizarre shot happen to him like Fowler did. This is the second time this happened to him.
“Kind of bad break in timing this year,” said a flustered Fowler. “Kind of had got things going, was in a good spot and would have been nice to kind of finish off the round where we were, try and get one or two more coming in.”
This all happened at a bad time when it appeared he was making a run up the leaderboard.
Ups and Downs: Tiger Woods
Speaking of surges, Woods gave himself an outside chance in rounds three and four of The Players Championship. He finished round two 1-under as he almost got cut and was 68th on the leaderboard. He finished day three 7-under after shooting a 65, career-low, and two strokes off the course record. Woods jumped up 60 spots and had many wondering if he could make it a showdown between he and Simpson. His hot streak continued into the final day as he get to 14-under before the wheels started to come off of his comeback wagon. At the 17th hole, Woods had a double bogey that effectively ended any chance he had of making this a chess match. He showed he has the ability to get hot and sustain that streak for a bit, but his clutch ability is not what it once was.
Woods talked about his late lapses, “I played so well this weekend unfortunately I just didn’t cash it in.”
The Champion: Webb Simpson
“It’s been a long time. We did it,” exclaimed Simpson as he embraced his wife.
Those words were a full 360 compared to the demeanor of Woods. Simpson got his first win since 2013 as he is now World Golf Hall of Fame eligible. This was after three years of refurbishing his image and he is, now, back in the limelight of golf after winning at Sawgrass. It became clear he was the favorite after tying the course record of 63 in the second round. Simpson made six birdies in a row at one point too.
On the final day, Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker, Danny Lee, and Woods all made a run. However, no one got close enough to make Simpson stress even after double bogeying on the 18th hole. He simply started out hot in the early rounds and was in cruise control. Most athletes like to speak to the media with a poker face, but afterwards Simpson was forthcoming with the truth. He was nervous trying to seal the deal as contentment started to creep in. In other words, he was not worried about the field as he was battling himself. With a few birdies here and there and his opponents facing too big a deficit, the American was able to bask in the glory of winning.
Simpson had struggled with the putter the last few years as his mishaps weighed on him. Those woes cannot even begin to compare to the biggest loss in his life, losing his father a year ago. He wanted to win this tournament for the biggest advocate in his corner, his mother. On Mother’s Day, he capped off a strong weekend with a sweet victory he should cherish for a while.