Webb Simpson wins The Players in TPC Sawgrass runaway
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Webb Simpson navigated his way through a few mistakes but not too much stress to win The Players Championship on Sunday.
Staked to a seven-shot lead, no one got closer than four shots of Simpson, even after a double bogey on the 18th hole when his only concern was finishing the hole at the TPC Sawgrass. He closed with a 1-over 73 for a four-shot victory, his biggest title since the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club.
Tiger Woods made another big run that revved up the crowd and revived hopes that he was close to winning. So did Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker and Danny Lee. None could do enough to catch Simpson during record scoring at the final Players Championship in May.
His only big mistake didn’t even matter. Simpson’s approach to the 18th bounded across the green and into the water. He closed with a double bogey, but that only made the final margin closer.
Justin Thomas left the TPC Sawgrass as the No. 1 player in the world. He closed with a 66 to tie for 11th, more than enough to end Dustin Johnson’s 15-month reign at the top of the ranking. Thomas is the 21st player to reach No. 1 since the ranking began in 1986, and the seventh American.
Jimmy Walker, Charl Schwartzel and Xander Schauffele all shot 67 to tie for second.
Woods ran off six birdies through 12 holes in the final round. He was tied for second at one point, still four shots behind, but that was as close he got. Woods made a soft bogey on the 14th hole when he missed the green with a sand wedge, and was well short of the island green in making double bogey on No. 17. He shot 69 and tied for 11th.
Simpson tied the course record with a 63 in the second round when he seized control — even with a double bogey from the water on the 17th — and he tied Greg Norman’s 54-hole record from 1994 at 19-under 197. Simpson set a record for the largest margin through three rounds. Brooks Koepka became the eighth player with a 63 on Sunday, which featured an albatross 2 on the par-5 16th.
Sipmson earned $1.98 million. He had missed the cut in four of his previous eight appearances at TPC Sawgrass and had gone 107 starts on the PGA Tour since winning Las Vegas toward the end of 2013.
SCIACCA, Sicily (AP) — Joakim Lagergren of Sweden claimed his first European Tour victory by closing with a 3-under 68 and beating Mike Lorenzo-Vera in a playoff at the Rocco Forte Sicilian Open.
Lagergren quickly made up a two-shot deficit with four birdies on the outward nine at Verdura Golf Club. Lorenzo-Vera shot 70 and joined Lagergren at 16-under 268.
On the first playoff hole, Lagergren hit his approach to 8 feet for birdie and the victory. It was the second time in three weeks that a Swede won his first European Tour event, following Alexander Bjork in the China Open.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole career,” Lagergren said. “I’m so relieved and I’m so happy at the moment, I can’t describe it in words. I’ve just been fighting so hard to get to here. It’s just awesome.”
Lucas Herbert matched the low score of the week with a 63 to finish one shot behind, along with Andy Sullivan (65).
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Stephan Jaeger birdied the final two holes for his second straight 7-under 64 and a three-stroke victory in the Web.com Tour’s Knoxville Open.
The 28-year-old PGA Tour player from Germany, a college star at Tennessee-Chattanooga, won his fourth career Web.com Tour title after failing to get into The Players Championship. He finished at 16-under 268.
Money leader Sungjae Im was second after a 68.
Wyndham Clark had a 65 to finish third at 12 under.
Jaeger will return to the PGA Tour next week for the AT&T Byron Nelson.
“It’s the same game on the PGA Tour, it’s just a different golf course,” Jaeger said.
Toru Taniguchi closed with a 1-under 71 and defeated Yoshinori Fujimoto in a sudden-death playoff to win the Japan PGA Championship. ... Malcolm Kokocinski rallied from a three-shot deficit with a 6-under 65 to win the Bangladesh Open for his first Asian Tour victory. ... Justin Harding made nine birdies and won the Swazi Open when Lyle Rowe made double bogey on the final hole. Harding won by one point in the Modified Stableford scoring on the Sunshine Tour. ... Michael Long overcame a five-shot deficit by tying the Kalgoorlie Golf Club record with an 8-under 64 for a one-shot victory in the WA PGA Championship on the PGA Tour of Australasia. ... Tyson Alexander eagled the second hole of a playoff to win PGA Tour Latinoamerica’s Costa Rica Classic. The former Florida player, and son of former Gators coach and Buddy Alexander, finished with a 5-under 66 to match fellow Americans Chris Killmer and Eric Steger at 18 under. ... Todd Baek of South Korea won for the second time on the PGA Tour China tour with 5-under 67 for a two-shot victory in the Haikou Championship. The tournament was reduced to 54 holes because of weather. ... Dimitrios Papadatos closed with a 69 for a two-shot victory over Antoine Rozner and Jose-Felipe Lima in the Portugal Open on the Challenge Tour.
Vicky Hurst won the Symetra Tour’s Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic in Greenwood, South Carolina. The former U.S. Solhein Cup player, with her mother serving as her caddie on Mother’s Day, birdied the final hole for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke victory over Dottie Ardina. Hurst has a record eight career Symetra victories. ... Ju Yeon In closed with an even-par 72 and won the NH Investment & Securities Ladies Championship with a birdie on the second hole to be So Yi Kim on the Korean LPGA Tour. ... Ai Suzuki shot 72 in the final round for a one-shot victory in the Hoken No Madoguchi Ladies. It was her third victory this year on the Japan LPGA Tour.