Simpson in complete control, leads by seven at Players

Simpson in complete control, leads by seven at Players

Despite, the heroics from Woods, he heads into the final round on Sunday a massive nine shots behind leader Simpson, who cemented his commanding lead at the top with a third round of 66.

The North Carolina native, and victor of the U.S. Open in 2012, had 248-yards to the flag at 11 but sent his second shot some 33-yards past the hole and into a rear greenside bunker. He settled for a 9-under 63 to tie the course record, giving him a five-shot lead going into the weekend.

He has now improved by exactly three strokes with each passing round. "I just rode the momentum", Simpson said after posting a 15-under 129 halfway total. "It was a different feeling (from his round on Friday). We were like, 'Man, I hope he shoots 59.' And at the same time, we're saying if he shoots 59, can you imagine how hard the setup is going to be tomorrow?"

Danny Lee was leading the B-Flight with a bogey-free round of 70, but with birdies only on the two par 5s on the back nine.

Simpson produced his shot of the day at the par-five 11th, where he sent his second shot some 33 yards past the hole and into a rear greenside bunker.

Simpson was on the verge of smashing the mark after reeling off six straight birdies, but he came to grief with a double bogey at the island-green par-three 17th.

Simpson, whose unique putting action is described by his caddie as the (Matt) Kuchar-claw, has converted 39 of 41 putts from 10 feet and in, and punctuated his round with a17-footer for par at the last hole.

"I had a lot of good shots, but it was just greens getting a little bit faster than yesterday".

"I'm trying not to dwell there".

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Tiger Woods probably thought he had encountered everything in professional golf - until a freakish Friday at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

The pair were in a group of seven players on eight under, including English pair Ian Poulter and Tommy Fleetwood. 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. I didn't know anything about a course record. "I'm hungry to get back in the winner's circle", he said after having tied Greg Norman (1994) for the best third-round score. "With these greens as soft as they are, I didn't take advantage of the opportunities I had today to really shoot a good number". I didn't feel like I had my best game out there, by any means, but still managed to shoot two under.

"If you don't miss a putt inside of 15 feet, golf is pretty easy", Spieth quipped. "I don't think any lead is safe".

'The 17th was unfortunate, I backed off it and then blocked the shot. "Out here, I felt like I didn't play that bad and I'm like in last".

The picture-perfect ball striking continued during the opening holes of the back-nine, as Woods hit a soaring 3-iron that set up an eagle attempt on the par-5 11. He birdied the 11th and, ultimately, the 18th.

Woods said he could not quite get it together on a day when birdies were there to be had.

'Never in a million years did I think someone would have a chance to shoot 61 around here, ' said an incredulous Sir Nick Faldo, on American television.

That likely would be enough to grant Simpson his fifth PGA Tour victory.