Simpson extends huge Sawgrass lead

Jason Day has put himself in with a shout at the Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - Webb Simpson has already etched his name into THE PLAYERS Championship record book.

After early fireworks from Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods, who shot up the leaderboard and electrified the galleries with twin 65s in the morning, it appeared as though the day could turn into a shootout - but that never materialized. Simpson then eagled the 11th when he holed out a 99-foot bunker shot.

Webb Simpson had to settle for a share of the course record at Sawgrass as the famous 17th hole claimed another victim in the Players Championship. He made four birdies, too, including one at the par-3 17th, where he hit his tee ball to 3 feet.

It added to a 19-under 197, the score Norman had after three rounds in 1994 on a rain-softened course.

Simpson, who had dipped to 190th on the PGA Tour in putting two years ago, celebrated the one-year anniversary of going to a claw grip, with the right-hand low.

"I said to my caddie I would like to play the golf course he's playing", Jason Day said.

"I won't be by end of the day, but it's nice to kind of somewhat be up there", he said. He will be in the final round.

"Just got to keep my hat down and play my own game", Lee said. "I know I have tied records but I don't think it matters until I win". He was going along nicely, until he stumbled with a double bogey on the 18th, but he still managed to post a 69, and is very much continuing his recent run of form.

They went from a tie for 68th to a tie for ninth. Dustin Johnson, who shared the first round lead with Simpson, among others, is alone in third, nine shots back.


Johnson is among six players to lose a six-shot lead in the final round, last fall in Shanghai.

Simpson will take the largest-ever lead into the final round of golf's unofficial fifth Major.

He just hasn't shown any signs of cracking. "I've been a pro since 2008, and I feel like you never know when a week like this will come". Woods insisted that somebody would go lower later in the day, but only Dufner even got within one of their numbers. He said a few fans were telling him to hit it. "This is a hard tournament to come to after a three-week break". "After what happened yesterday on 17, I wanted to play a good solid hole and I did that".

By the time Woods and playing partner Mackenzie Hughes got to 16, the frenzied crowd was dozens deep and craning for a glimpse of golf's biggest star.

Simpson, the 2012 US Open champion, had started the tournament by compiling an accomplished 66 but accelerated clear of the field with a stunning spurt on the back nine on Friday.

Woods and Spieth had the best scores Saturday, with sustained roars rolling over the grounds.

He hit 11 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens and needed just 27 putts.

"Eventually I was going to put all the pieces together and today, for the most part, I did that", Woods said. It also marked his lowest score of the season, his best since a 65 at the 2015 Wyndham Championship and his lowest score to par since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. That was a month before he was sidelined with three more back surgeries. He's also 179th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained and has zero top-50 finishes this calendar year.

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