Mo Yoshimoto

The Takeaway

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Simpson dominates THE PLAYERS

Monday, May 14, 2018

THE PLAYERS Championship

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL




Playing out of the final twosome with Danny Lee (72), overnight leader and World No. 41 Webb Simpson navigated a 1-over-par 36-37=73 on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass for a 72-hole tally of 18-under 270, good for a four-shot win over Charl Schwartzel (67), Jimmy Walker (67), and Xander Schauffele (67), and his fifth PGA TOUR title in 250 events (248 pro).



The 32-year-old, a pre-tourney 66/1 outright, tastes victory for the first time since the 2013-14 Shriners (also as 54-hole leader), 4 years, 7 months and 108 starts ago.


The win comes in his 14th start of the season, is a fifth top 10 and fourth top 5 (T4, Sony Open; T5, Honda, T5, RBC Heritage).


The Wake Forest alum also records his fourth straight and ninth top 25 of the season. Justin Thomas and Chesson Hadley, who both finished T11, are the season leaders in top-25 finishes with 12 and 11, respectively.


Simpson’s Season Form: 1-21-5-20 (29-8-37-5-MC-36-4-WD-20-17)

OWGR: 20th (UP 21)

FedExCup: 8th (UP 28)


His mid-tourney WD at the RSM back in November was just the second in his career and first since his rookie season in 2009. After opening in 68-67 he was T12 but WD prior to R3 due to his dad’s deteriorating health.


The North Carolinian, whose dad passed away in November, dedicated this week’s win to his mom Debbie. What a Mother’s Day tribute.





This was Simpson’s ninth PLAYERS, third top 25 and first top 10. His scoring average in 28 rounds on the par-72 layout is now 71.40 with 13 rounds in the red.


Simpson’s opening 66 was a new low before a course-record-tying 63 in R2. At that time, he became the seventh golfer to shoot 63.


NOTE: Brooks Koepka became the eighth golfer with a closing 63 for T11, highlighted by an albatross on the par-5 16th.



Simpson, who led or co-led after every round, is the fourth golfer to ride the 63 on to victory (Jason Day/2016; Martin Kaymer/2014; Greg Norman/1994). In his last win at the 2014 Shriners, Simpson also carded a 63, an 8-under version, in Round 2.


PLAYERS Form: 1-16-66-MC-15-MC-69-MC—MC


This week: $1.98 MILLION

Previous eight starts total: $348,600 or $43,575 per





Just HOW dominant was this performance?



In 37 PLAYERS held at TPC Sawgrass, Simpson’s 18-under 270 is tied for second best all-time:


264- Greg Norman/1994

270- Nick Price/1993; Fred Couples/1996; Webb Simpson/2018



He set or tied several tourney records along the way, including a 5-shot lead after 36 holes and 7-shot lead after 54 holes after 54 holes (66-63-68), both records.





Simpson’s KEY Stats for the Week (ranking of 71):



Driving Accuracy: 46/56 (1st) at 82.14%

SG: Putting: 9.37 (1st)

All Around: 1st

Par-4 Scoring: 3.80 (T1)

Par-5 Scoring: 4.19 (T1)


Total Birdies: 23 (T2)

Total Bogeys: 5 (T2)


SG: Around-the-Green: 5.03 (3rd)

Putts per GIR: 1.600 (3rd)

Total Putts: 108 (T4)

GIR: 55/72 (T5) at 76.39%





Least Important Stats (ranking of 71):



Driving Distance (all drives): 274.0 yards (70th)

Proximity to Hole: 44’0” (69th)

SG: Approach-the-Green: -0.76 (62nd)



FUN FACT: Simpson is the second winner this season, second straight, who didn’t rank in the Top 25 in SG: Approach. In fact, his 62nd is the worst by a winner since Day’s 50th-place ranking last week (Wells Fargo: 0.12) and is the worst by a winner since the beginning of last season.





Short Game on Display:



FUN FACT: Simpson ranked 3rd in SG: Around-the-Green, one week after Day became the first winner this season to rank 1st. Dating to the beginning of last season (49 ShotLink events), he’s just the 10th winner to rank in the Top 3 in this stat.


FUN FACT: Simpson’s 1st-place ranking in SGP is just the second time this season (in 16 ShotLink events) where the winner was No. 1 in SGP, joining Rory McIlroy at Arnie’s Invite.




Top 3 SG: Putting Performances by a winner (season):



McIlroy: 10.03 (API); week ranking: 1st

Simpson: 9.37 (PLAYERS); week ranking: 1st

Day: 8.25 (Wells Fargo); week ranking: 2nd 





U.S. Ryder Cup Standings:



It’s getting to be about that time where the upcoming Ryder Cup (in France) is going to start getting more attention. Simpson jumped from 23rd to 9th in the standings (Top 8 are automatic selections). 




FUN FACT: Simpson is the 17th straight winner this season with either 0 or 1 week off prior to their wins, arriving off a T21 at last week's Wells Fargo. In total, 23 (of 28) event winners fall into this category.





Final Leaderboard (pre-tourney odds outright):



1-  Webb Simpson (66/1)

T2- Charl Schwartzel (80/1)

T2- Jimmy Walker (100/1)

T2- Xander Schauffele (100/1)

T5- Jason Day (14/1)

T5- Jason Dufner (100/1)



FUN FACT: Other than Schwartzel (80/1), the last three tourneys (excluding team-Zurich), had runners-up that were pre-tourney triple-digits outright.


This Week: Walker, Schauffele (100/1)

Wells Fargo: Wise, Watney (150/1)

Valero: O’Hair, Mullinax (150/1)





Simpson’s Wins (5):



By Calendar Year:



2018: 1

2017: 0

2016: 0

2015: 0

2014: 1

2013: 0

2012: 1

2011: 2 (first win: Wyndham; 88th career start)

2010: 0

2009: 0







Playing his 10th straight season, Simpson has now recorded 57 top-10 finishes:



250: Starts

189: Cuts Made (75.6%)

2: WD (0.8%)


108: Top 25s (43.2%)

57: Top 10s (22.8%)

17: Top 3s (6.8%)

5: Wins (2.0%)




Breakdown of Simpson’s Wins:



3 as 54-hole leader/co-leader; largest winning margin: 6 shots, 2014 Shriners


2 come from behind; largest deficit overcome: 4 shots, 2012 U.S. Open


1st on par-72 layout



FUN FACT: This was Simpson’s first win as 18-hole leader/co-leader, now 1-for-8. He becomes the sixth player to win THE PLAYERS, a major (2012 U.S. Open), and a FedExCup Playoffs event (2011 Deutsche Bank), joining Day, Woods, Stenson, Mickelson, Scott. 





Field Scoring Average:



This was the 45th playing of THE PLAYERS, 37th and 37th consecutive at The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass:



Yardage: 7,189

Par: 72 (36-36)



Cumulative scoring averages:


R1: 72.01

R2: 71.27

R3: 71.80

R4: 70.01


Total: 71.41



Simpson: 66-63-68-73 for 15.101 SG: Total




Simpson’s Position by Round:



R1: T1

R2: 1

R3: 1 





Leader/co-leaders by Round:



R1: Webb Simpson (Won): Improves to 1-for-8 as 18-hole leader/co-leader

R1: Dustin Johnson (T17): Drops to 3-for-15

R1: Alex Noren (T17): Drops to 0-for-2

R1: Chesson Hadley (T11): Drops to 0-for-1

R1: Matt Kuchar (T17): Drops to 1-for-9

R1: Patrick Cantlay (T23): Drops to 0-for-2


R2: Webb Simpson (Won): Improves to 2-for-11 as 36-hole leader/co-leader


R3: Webb Simpson (Won): Improves to 3-for-8 as 54-hole leader/co-leader








A total of 80 players from a field of 144 made the 36-hole cut of 1-under 143:



43 (of 72) EARLY/late

37 (of 71) LATE/early; 1 WD



71 players survived a second cut after 54 holes: even-par 216



Exactly 10 players finished in the top 10:



EARLY/late (5):


Webb Simpson (Won); Harold Varner III (T7); Danny Lee (T7); Tommy Fleetwood (T7); Keegan Bradley (T7)



LATE/early (5):


Charl Schwartzel (T2); Jimmy Walker (T2); Xander Schauffele (T2); Jason Day (T5); Jason Dufner (T50



Note: Simpson is the fourth straight EARLY/late winner at THE PLAYERS







16 (of 28) tourneys this season with a traditional draw:






EARLY/late: 9 (Simpson)


LATE/early: 7





New World No. 1:



Justin Thomas: After making the cut T68 on the number, finished T11 (73-70-68-66) playing the weekend in 10-under, tied for the best final 36 holes with Jason Dufner and Tiger Woods.


The 25-year-old is the 21st player in history to reach No. 1 and the fourth youngest (Woods, Spieth, McIlroy), knocking Dustin Johnson to No. 2.


Thomas’ T11 was his TOUR-leading 12th top 25 of the season in 13 starts, interrupted only by a MC at the Zurich teamed with fellow Alabama product Bud Cauley.


PLAYERS Form: 11-MDF-3-24


Season Form: 11-21-MC-17-4-P2-P1-9-17-14-22-11-P1-17

FEC Rank: 1st (no change)

OWGR: 1st (UP one)



Dustin Johnson: First-round co-leader finished T17 (66-71-69-72). Had held the top spot for 64 consecutive weeks – fifth longest stretch – dating to Feb. 20, 2017 after winning the Genesis, where he moved from 3rd to 1st. He’s added four wins and three runners-up since, but apparently that’s not enough, now 0.2524 average world-ranking points behind.


The 33-year-old used a new putter this week and employed AimPoint Express for the first time: finished 31st in SG: Putting (1.82) and 50th in putts per GIR (1.769).


PLAYERS Form: 17-12-28-69-59-WD-57-34-MDF-MC


Season Form: 17-16-10 (59-7-16-2-1-14-2)

FEC Rank: 7th (no change)

OWGR: 2nd (down one)  



Note: Thomas was 8th entering the 2017 Genesis and like DJ, also has four wins since, adding two runners-up and four other top-5 finishes.



Tiger Woods: The former World No. 1 was making his first appearance since T69/2015. He finished T11 after making the cut T68 on the number (72-71-65-69). The 42-year-old is up to 80th in OWGR after ending 2017 at 656th. Several positives but isn’t quite there yet, particularly when in contention. Played the front nine in 11-under and the easier back nine in even-par, including 1-over on Sunday.


PLAYERS Form: 11-69-1-40-WD-WD-8-37-22-53-16-11-14-1-2-10-35-31


Season Form: 11-55-32-5-2-12-MC-23

FEC: 48th (UP six)

OWGR: 80th (UP 12)


Note: In eight starts this season, Woods has connected four sub-par rounds once (T2, Valspar).



Jason Day: Stated goal/mission is to get back to No. 1. Finished T5 (69-67-71-68) one week after claiming his 12th TOUR title and second of the season at the Wells Fargo. Don’t look for the 30-year-old to slow down anytime soon. Looking at his PLAYERS form, he alternates good with bad performances.


PLAYERS Form: 5-60-1-MC-19-MC-6-MC


Season Form: 5-1 (34-20-3-22-2-P1-11-11)

FEC Rank: 2nd (no change)

OWGR: 7th (no change)




FUN FACT: Of the 10 players that finished in the top 10, Day was the only player that had a previous top-5 finish at TPC Sawgrass (Won/2016). Eight of the top-10 finishers had at least three prior appearances with the exceptions of Tommy Fleetwood, who was making his second (T41/2017) (see note on Fleetwood below), and first-timer Xander Schauffele.


Note: 24 of the Top 25 in OWGR were in the field. Just two of them finished in the top 10: No. 7 Day (T5) and No. 14 Fleetwood (T7). No. 2 Thomas and No. 11 Koepka were the only others to manage a top-15 finish. 




Xander Schauffele: The 24-year-old was top debutant (of 21) with T2 and the only top-20 finisher of the bunch. This was his best finish since winning last year’s TOUR Championship en route to Rookie of the Year Honors. The San Diego State alum, scuffling a bit on arrival, is proving to be a big-game hunter. This is his first runner-up in 45 events but fourth top-3 finish.


Season Form: 2-72-73-32-50-17-18-9-17-MC

FEC Rank: 31st (UP 22)

OWGR: 23rd (UP six)





Florida Angle:



No native Floridian finished in the top 10. Two finished in the top 25: Koepka T11 (70-70-74-63) and Matt Kuchar T17 (66-71-71-70).


Kuchar is the TOUR leader in Consecutive Cuts Made with 30. Day, Adam Hadwin, DJ are T2 with 17 straight. Kuchar’s last MC was the 2017 Houston Open over 13 months ago.





Notable top-25 finish streaks (season) that ended:



Patrick Reed (T41) and Hadwin (T57) both had their streaks end at six straight, which had been the longest current streaks this season. Reed's streak was ALL top 10s, dating to T2 at the Valspar.


The new leader is now Hadley, who’s connected six straight. He’s followed by Henrik Stenson (T23) with five, and then Simpson (Won) and Jimmy Walker (T2) with four straight.


Tony Finau (T57) saw his streak end at five.





Low Rounds:



R1: 66: Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Chesson Hadley, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay


R2: 63: Webb Simpson


R3: 65: Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods


R4: 63: Brooks Koepka




Bogey-free Rounds:



R1: Dustin Johnson (66); Alex Noren (66); Jhonattan Vegas (67); Andrew Landry (67); Cody Gribble (68); Brooks Koepka (70)


R2: Charl Schwartzel (66); Charles Howell III (67); Jason Day (67); Jamie Lovemark (67); Patrick Reed (68)


R3: Justin Thomas (68); Danny Lee (70)


R4: Brooks Koepka (63); Jimmy Walker (67); Jason Day (68); Adam Scott (68)



Multiple Bogey-free Rounds:  Day (x2); Koepka (x2)








Note: Schauffele was covered earlier. The other two were:



Charl Schwartzel: The 33-year-old, mired in a slump, received a tip from teammate Louis Oosthuizen prior to the third round of the Zurich. The team eventually finished 3rd and Schwartzel has chased with T9 (Wells Fargo) and T2 this week, his third runner-up in 174 events, first since T2 at the 2017 FedEx St. Jude.


Score: 14-under 274 (68-66-73-67)

PLAYERS Form: 2-MC-51-48-55-26-MC-58


Season Form: 2-9-3 (MC-MC-36-MC-49-48-68-50-28-48)

OWGR: 43rd (UP 19)

FEC: 58th (UP 50)



Jimmy Walker: The 39-year-old closed in bogey-free 67 for a season-best T2. It’s his fifth top 25 of the season, fourth straight, clearly back in-form after struggling with Lyme disease. It’s his fourth runner-up in 297 events, first since T2 at the 2015 Byron Nelson.


Score: 14-under 274 (69-68-70-67)

PLAYERS Form: 2-56-MC-MC-6-15-35-MC-26


Season Form: 2-25-4-20 (73-28-33-MC-8-63-MC-MC-MC)

OWGR: 56th (UP 27)

FEC: 49th (UP 45)





Picking a Winner:



Through 28 events (29 winners) this season:



8 winners were in their 20s

16 were in their 30s (Simpson: age 32)

5 were in their 40s



Simpson is the FIFTH straight winner in their 30s







17 (of 29) winners had a top-25 finish the start prior (58.6%):

Simpson? Yes: T21 (Wells Fargo)






9 (of 29) winners had a top-10 finish the start prior (31.0%)

Simpson? No: T21 (Wells Fargo)







Average winner’s pre-tourney odds outright (rounded). Last 10:



Simpson: 66/1 (PLAYERS)


Day: 20/1 (Wells Fargo)

Horschel/Piercy: 40/1 (Zurich)

Landry: 125/1 (VTO)

Kodaira: 200/1 (Heritage)

Reed: 50/1 (Masters)

Poulter: 66/1 (Houston Open)

Watson: 50/1 (WGC-Match Play)

Garnett: 50/1 (Corales)

McIlroy: 16/1 (API)





Updated Top 10 in FedExCup standings (points):



Justin Thomas remains No. 1 in the standings for a 13th event in a row and a 12th overall week this season:



1. Justin Thomas (1,874)

2. Jason Day (1,533)

3. Phil Mickelson (1,348)

4. Patton Kizzire (1,329)

5. Patrick Reed (1,315)

6. Bubba Watson (1,292)

7. Dustin Johnson (1,228)

8. Webb Simpson (1,228); UP 28

9. Jon Rahm (1,144); DOWN one

10. Tony Finau (1,118); DOWN one



Note: Paul Casey, who WD prior (back), dropped from 10th to 12th





Updated Top 10 in OWGR:



With a Strength of Field rating of 854 (up from 844 last year), Simpson banks 80.00 world-ranking points and jumps 21 spots to a 20th in OWGR. 



1. Justin Thomas (UP one)

2. Dustin Johnson (DOWN one)

3. Jordan Spieth (UP one)

4. Jon Rahm (DOWN one)

5. Justin Rose

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Jason Day

8. Rory McIlroy

9. Hideki Matsuyama

10. Tommy Fleetwood (UP four); tied career high



Note: Masters winner Patrick Reed (T41) dropped from 10th to 13th




Notable Career Highs in OWGR:



Tommy Fleetwood: 10th (UP four); tied career high

Bryson DeChambeau: 40th (UP two)















You can find Mo on Twitter @Bears3423.
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