Simpson marches to four-stroke Players triumph

Ponte Vedra Beach (United States) (AFP) –


Former US Open champion Webb Simpson finished a four-stroke, wire-to-wire triumph at the Players Championship on Sunday to end a four-year victory drought.

A double-bogey at the final hole was just a blip for the 32-year-old Simpson, who signed for a final-round 73 and an 18-under par total of 270 at TPC Sawgrass.

The North Carolina native was never headed since sharing the lead on day one and then storming five shots clear of his rivals on day two in shooting a course record-equalling 63.

He took a tournament-record seven-shot lead into the final round -- and marched to the victory as would-be challengers including Tiger Woods fell by the wayside.

South African Charl Schwartzel (6Y) and the American duo of Jimmy Walker (67) and Xander Schauffele (67) - shared second place on 14-under par.

Woods's storming run of six birdies in his first 12 holes saw him move into a tie for second. But a double-bogey five at the 17th saw him settle for a 69 and a share of 11th on 11-under par.

Fellow American Justin Thomas was also tied for 11th -- good enough to seize the world number one ranking from Dustin Johnson who had held it for 64 weeks.