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Tiger Woods: 'I'm not that far off from winning golf tournaments'

Tiger Woods: 'I'm not that far off from winning golf tournaments'

Tiger Woods: 'I'm not that far off from winning golf tournaments'

Rejuvenated Webb Simpson deserves all the plaudits and headlines he is receiving after holding his nerve to post a dominant victory at The Players Championship on Sunday. Having not won on the PGA Tour since 2013 in Las Vegas, he'd gone through extreme depths trying to figure out his putting when, in 2016, the U.S. Golf Association eliminated the anchored stroke he'd used since his freshman year of college.

To most casual fans, Sunday's final round at TPC Sawgrass was little more than a coronation. After his best drive of the day - a fairway-splitting 354-yarder - he spun his sand wedge back off the green, then missed from 7 feet for par.

Simpson's three-round total matched the tournament record set by Australian Greg Norman in 1994 en route to a four-stroke victory. There was a moment Sunday when Simpson bogeyed and Woods was staring down a makeable birdie putt. All in all, I think he played like a 5- or 6-under round, nearly shot 7 or 8 and ended up with 3.

He recalls the moment in the auto park at the Northern Trust Open two years ago when after missing another cut, an honest debrief with caddie Paul Tesori led to his putting epiphany.

"Hey bud", Tesori asked. "You don't really need to go into the 60s".

When Simpson replied that he was, Tesori called him out. Once it was announced last week he was going to play, the thoughts of him returning to the winners' circle started to come. Outside of an airmailed approach in the water on 18, when victory was all but certain, Simpson was calm once again. But at one point early on the back nine, Woods had gotten it to 14-under, in a tie for second.

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270-Webb Simpson 66-63-68-73. The drop also cost him approximately $600,000 in prize money, as the three players who tied for second each received $821,333, while Woods got $225,500.

We've touched on this before, of course. All three have struggled immensely to find that type of success since then. Former world No 1 Jason Day of Australia was in a group of five on 207 - but the tournament is Simpson's to lose. That's because he embraced the ban, as Luke Kerr-Dineen wrote for Golf Digest.

Look beyond the grand narrative, though, and Simpson was completing a career resurrection of his own. There are bigger things to come from him. Some 13 months after spinal fusion surgery, he has played nine worldwide events - eight on the PGA Tour - and posted five top-12 finishes.

After failing to birdie the par-5 16th for the second straight day, he arrived at the par-3 17th and watched Jordan Spieth stick his shot to a few feet from a precarious pin that is typically on the right side on Sundays. He knows what it's like to play with big leads, to win big. A tip from fellow pro Tim Clark on the TPC Sawgrass practice green last May gave Simpson a new lease on his career.

Simpson, who is now $1.98m richer, can eye a Ryder Cup return - he represented the U.S. in 2012 and 2014 - plus the belated fulfilling of promise that was obvious when he prevailed at the US Open six years ago.

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