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Webb Simpson continued his march towards The Players Championship title, holding a seven-stroke lead at the end of the day three of the competition.
The American maintained the high standard of form from day two where he took a stranglehold of pole position at the top of the leaderboard.
Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods enjoyed the best rounds of the day, with both players displaying their quality by carding seven-under 65.
However, the two Americans are well off Simpson’s pace and will need something special to come into contention for the crown.
Australia’s Danny Lee is the nearest man to the 32-year-old at the top, although seven shots will be almost impossible to make up unless Simpson has a case of the jitters on the final day.
Simpson held a dominant five-shot lead heading into the third round of the competition. He produced one of the displays of his career to card a 63, which so easily could have been a threat to the course record of 59 had fortune been on his side on the 17th.
Simpson sent down an early marker on Saturday to extend his lead at the top, birdieing the first hole. A brilliant approach at the fourth hole put him inches away from the pin, securing another birdie. His momentum was checked by a loose tee shot on the eighth that caused him to drop a shot, although he notched a birdie on the ninth to get back on song.
The moment that may have won the competition for the 32-year-old came on the 11th. He sent his second shot into the bunker 50 feet away from the pin. However, he chipped out and found the hole to make a brilliant eagle taking him to 19-under on the competition. Simpson dropped a shot on the 14th, but made amends on the 17th to card a round of 68. He may only need an even-par round on Sunday to secure the win. Back him at odds of 1/10 1.10 -1000 0.10 -10.00 0.10 with Betway to see out the victory.
Lee finds himself as the nearest challenger to Simpson at the top of the leaderboard. The New Zealander had been solid on the opening two days of the competition, firing a four-under round of 68 on day one before following it up with a six-under performance on Friday. Lee could have been closer to Simpson at the top, and he may come to rue mistakes he made on day two, including his double-bogey on the par-five 11th. He recovered brilliantly by carding four birdies and an eagle on his final seven holes to move back to 10-under.
His round on Saturday was a steady affair. The Kiwi coasted through the opening nine holes, making even-par, not enough of an impression to close the gap on Simpson. The 11th did not hold the same demons as Friday, with the 27-year-old birdieing the hole on this occasion. He enjoyed similar success on the par-five 16th with a birdie to move to 12-under where he remained for the final two holes. Lee is seven shots behind and will need help to catch Simpson, but he’s the only man with a realistic opportunity to knock off the American. Back him at odds of 28/1 29.00 +2800 28.00 28.00 -0.04 with 888Sport.
Johnson needs to finish in tied-11th to retain his status as world number one. The American is well on his way, although his hopes of winning the competition appear to be over bar a collapse from Simpson that would bring the field back into play. Johnson had a share of the lead on the opening day with a round of six-under. However, a flurry of mistakes on his second round prevented him from sustaining his charge, notching four bogeys on Friday.
The 33-year-old’s third round looked to be heading in the same direction, despite carding an early birdie on the second hole. A run of two bogeys in four holes attempted to derail his round, but he regained his momentum before the turn with a birdie on the ninth. A flawless back nine, including birdies at the 13th, 15th and 17th allowed him to move up the leaderboard on to 10-under for the tournament. Johnson is nine strokes off the pace, which is reflected in his odds of 22/1 23.00 +2200 22.00 22.00 -0.05 with 888Sport.
The Australian appeared to be moving into position for a surge to challenge Simpson. However, it not materialise on day three as Day put in an underwhelming performance. It has been the story of the week for the 28-year-old as he has been solid, but has not conjured the magic needed to move into contention for the crown. Day was three-under on day one before producing a flawless round of 67, although he was still well off Simpson’s pace at the top.
Day needed a special performance on day three to rack up the pressure on the American. However, he was inconsistent and unable to find his best form. The 28-year-old notched a birdie on the second, but then took a step back with a bogey on the fourth. He regained the shot immediately with his second birdie on the fifth. He was never able to get going, not carding another birdie until the 11th, which was soon lost by dropping a stroke at the 14th. His round of one-under was not what he required on day three. At 55/1 56.00 +5500 55.00 55.00 -0.02 he could be worth a very small punt at 888Sport.
Much like The Masters, Spieth has left it too late in the day to produce his best golf. The American effectively took himself out of contention on the opening day of the tournament with a three-over round of 75. He recovered on day to post a 68 to make the cut, although he produced another inconsistent display on the course. On Saturday he was outstanding, playing at the peak of his powers, particularly on the back nine as he flew up the leaderboard.
Spieth had a quiet opening nine, notching three birdies, although a bogey on the fourth checked his momentum. After the turn, the 23-year-old was electric notching three birdies on the bounce before being stymied due to a mistake at the 14th. Spieth regained his momentum to finish strongly with three birdies to end the round with a seven-under 65. At eight-under he’s 11 shots off the pace and in need of a miracle to have a hope of winning the event.
Webb Simpson To Win The Players Championship
Sunday May 13th 2018
Odds: 1/10 1.10 -1000 0.10 -10.00 0.10
Danny Lee To Win The Players Championship
Sunday May 13th 2018
Odds: 28/1 29.00 +2800 28.00 28.00 -0.04
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