What to look for Sunday at The Players

Leader Webb Simpson walks to the 17th green during the second round of the Players Championship

Camera Icon Leader Webb Simpson walks to the 17th green during the second round of the Players Championship

With just 18 holes remaining in the US$11 million (Dh40.3m) tournament at TPC Sawgrass, Simpson was seven clear of New Zealand's Danny Lee, who carded a 70 for 204. Five players are tied for fourth at nine under: Jason Dufner (after a six-under 66), Jimmy Walker (70), Xander Schauffele (71), Jason Day (71), and Charl Schwartzel (73).

If Simpson needs proof that he will still have some work to do in the final round, all he needs to remember is what happened to Czechoslovakian golfer Alex Cejka in this tournament in 2009.

In sports there are no guarantees - it's why they prefer to go all 72 before doling out crystal on the PGA Tour - but consider that Simpson could spot his closest challenger a stroke a hole on the front nine on Sunday and still likely ease into the closing loop with a comfortable lead.

He stretched his lead to a record seven shots, tied Greg Norman's 54-hole score at The Players that had not been touched in 24 years and left himself one more round to capture the richest prize in golf.

"I wanted to have clean mindset and stick to my routine", Simpson said on Golf Channel after his round. Yesterday was a bunch of birdies. Simpson simply couldn't miss, whether it was a 35-foot eagle putt on his second hole or a 30-foot birdie putt up the slope and into the cup on the 15th.

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. "I thought the ball would stick on the hill (about 18 feet from the pin), but once it started to catch some speed, it was a very good feeling".

"Yes, I was playing in the last group with a big lead, but I still have to hit shots and make putts", Simpson said.

"I played a lot of good shots out there today and it was nice to see a few putts go in". I think that part of the game is a mystery. That's sometimes unsustainable, but Simpson delivered answers with his iron play and approach shots.

And a par at the last meant Simpson had to be satisfied with becoming the seventh player to shoot 63 in the Players Championship, the 32-year-old's 15 under par total also equalling the 36-hole scoring record.

"I know I have tied records but I don't think it matters until I win".

The 42-year-old Woods then jagged birdies at the 11th and 12th but that was it for his charge, with a bogey at the 14th. 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. He would play the rest of the round in one over, however, leaving a less-than-ideal taste after a round that looked like it would challenge the course record of 63. "Eventually I was going to put all the pieces together. I managed to stay very patient out there". He added two more birdies on the front (on 4 and 9), which sandwiched a bogey on 8, and by that point his lead was already up to seven. The 2011 U.S. Open champion fist-pumped as he drained a 17-footer for par at the last, proof that finishing a round on a high note is of paramount importance no matter the scoreboard.

Golf can make you laugh. He birdied the 11th and, ultimately, the 18th. So do Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

Despite his position, Simpson said he saw room for improvement. "I just want to come out ready and not feel like I'm rushed and stick to the same routine we started with on Thursday and kept throughout the week".

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