Webb Simpson is on the verge of a Players Championship blowout. Don’t be mad about that.

It will take a true implosion for Webb Simpson not to win the 2018 Players Championship. No one roots for an implosion, except in the case of maybe a handful of golfers who shall remain nameless. Webb may not float your boat but he’s a worthy 54-hole leader and, from all accounts, one of the best dudes out there on the Tour. He’s a U.S. Open champion so this would not be a career-defining moment, but he has not won on the PGA Tour since 2013 and this event is obviously one of the five or six biggest in the game. It may not be dramatic and Webb may not be your name guy, but this would be a special moment and win.

Simpson will sleep on not just any old 54-hole lead, but a massive 7-shot cushion. He not only went out on Saturday and held the line on his 5-shot lead, but extended it with an absurd 4-under 68. There were lower scores out there, and even Webb’s could have been a few shots lower. But given the circumstances of playing with a 5-shot lead, usually a defensive and pressurized position, it’s an impressive accomplishment to post a 68.

It started right from the first hole, where Simpson stuffed it inside eight feet and then rolled in the opening birdie. At the fourth hole, he put it to 17 inches and it became apparent there would be no grand coming back to the field just because it was now the weekend.

Despite Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods demonstrating early in the day that low scores were out there, no one on the first page of the leaderboard really made a run to put a scare into Webb. The rounds of 65 from Spieth and Tiger were the lows of the day, even though Woods said he thought someone in the afternoon would beat it. No one from that cluster around 10-under posted something in the mid-60s to get into that 13 to 15-under range to at least make Webb sweat a little bit.

The closest chaser is Danny Lee, who is at 12-under following a third-round 70. The seven-shot margin is the largest on the PGA Tour since Justin Thomas blew out the field at last year’s Sony Open. That included a round of 59.

There were a few slip-ups on the back nine, but nothing Webb didn’t mitigate with a nails putt or a timely hole-out. After blasting one over the green at the par-5 11th, it appeared he would have to grind for a birdie on an easier birdie hole. Instead, he just drained it from the sand for the eagle.

The last best hope for the rest of the field having a closer shot came at the infamous 17th hole. That’s where we’ve seen so many Players Championship hopes washed away in the amphitheater of sauced Jacksonville crowd. Simpson put it in the drink there on Friday and made a double bogey that prevented him from setting a new course record. On Saturday, however, he played the slope perfectly and his tee shot nestled in tight for an easy birdie.

The largest ever blown 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour is 6 strokes, per Golf Channel stats ace Justin Ray. So we’d be talking about an historic collapse on Sunday should Webb blow this seven-shot margin. There will be people rooting for that, especially if Tiger starts putting some birdies up on the board a few groups ahead of that final pairing.

Webb has a funky, even ugly-ass swing. It’s the butt of jokes but I’d much rather see some weird, funky swing than an automated one that was refined in a lab and tailored to a bunch of data points since a pro was 15 years old. Embrace the weird and idiosyncratic. He’s also busted his ass figuring out how to putt following a few miserable years after the USGA outlawed the anchoring style he grew up molding for his game.

There are going to be jokes about how Webb is boring, a seven-shot lead is boring, and Webb with a seven-shot lead is a lobotomy. I’d tend to fall into that group viewpoint most of the time, but not this week. Webb is good dude, playing out of his ass, and he hasn’t won on the Tour in almost five years. If he cruises to a victory at the PGA Tour’s biggest event, that’s still pretty cool even if you’re napping on the couch.


Here’s your board at the 54-hole mark:

2018 Players Championship Leaderboard

Place Player Score Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Place Player Score Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
1 Webb Simpson -19 66 63 68
2 Danny Lee -12 68 66 70
3 Dustin Johnson -10 66 71 69
T4 Jason Dufner -9 72 69 66
T4 Jimmy Walker -9 69 68 70
T4 Xander Schauffele -9 68 68 71
T4 Jason Day -9 69 67 71
T4 Charl Schwartzel -9 68 66 73
T9 Jordan Spieth -8 75 68 65
T9 Tiger Woods -8 72 71 65
T9 Tommy Fleetwood -8 69 71 68
T9 Ian Poulter -8 70 69 69
T9 Harold Varner, III -8 71 67 70
T9 Matt Kuchar -8 66 71 71
T9 Patrick Cantlay -8 66 68 74
T16 Marc Leishman -7 71 71 67
T16 Rafael Cabrera Bello -7 71 71 67
T16 Richy Werenski -7 70 71 68
T16 Grayson Murray -7 72 68 69
T16 Jhonattan Vegas -7 67 72 70
T16 Rory Sabbatini -7 67 71 71
T16 Henrik Stenson -7 68 70 71
T16 Adam Scott -7 69 68 72
T16 Steve Stricker -7 67 69 73
T16 Charles Howell III -7 68 67 74
T26 Scott Brown -6 70 71 69
T26 Ryan Palmer -6 74 67 69
T26 Byeong Hun An -6 71 70 69
T26 Patrick Reed -6 72 68 70
T26 Keegan Bradley -6 69 69 72
T26 Bryson DeChambeau -6 70 67 73
T26 Chesson Hadley -6 66 69 75
T33 Justin Thomas -5 73 70 68
T33 Mackenzie Hughes -5 76 67 68
T33 Chez Reavie -5 71 71 69
T33 Jamie Lovemark -5 76 67 68
T33 Chris Kirk -5 70 71 70
T33 Adam Hadwin -5 72 68 71
T33 Cody Gribble -5 68 71 72
T33 Brice Garnett -5 69 69 73
T33 Billy Horschel -5 68 70 73
T42 J.J. Henry -4 72 71 69
T42 Shane Lowry -4 75 68 69
T42 Tyrone van Aswegen -4 74 68 70
T42 Matthew Fitzpatrick -4 72 70 70
T42 Jason Kokrak -4 72 69 71
T42 Ted Potter Jr. -4 70 70 72
T42 Chris Stroud -4 70 70 72
T42 Emiliano Grillo -4 69 71 72
T42 Kevin Na -4 69 71 72
T42 Beau Hossler -4 70 69 73
T42 Bubba Watson -4 68 71 73
T42 Sergio Garcia -4 68 69 75
T42 Alex Noren -4 66 69 77
T55 Martin Laird -3 72 71 70
T55 Kiradech Aphibarnrat -3 71 71 71
T55 Austin Cook -3 72 70 71
T55 Andrew Landry -3 67 75 71
T55 Tony Finau -3 70 72 71
T55 Justin Rose -3 68 72 73
T55 Branden Grace -3 69 71 73
T55 Si Woo Kim -3 67 72 74
T63 Nick Watney -2 70 72 72
T63 Daniel Berger -2 74 68 72
T63 Kevin Tway -2 70 72 72
T63 Ryan Moore -2 71 70 73
T63 Brooks Koepka -2 70 70 74
T63 C.T. Pan -2 68 70 76
69 Jon Rahm -1 68 70 77
T70 Ross Fisher E 70 73 73
T70 Brandon Harkins E 75 68 73

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