Monday 19 November 2018

Simpson holds off chasing pack to claim TPC title

Shane Lowry. Photo: Getty Images
Shane Lowry. Photo: Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Webb Simpson didn't have to be at his best in his final round but still ran out a four-shot winner of The Players Championship at Sawgrass.

The America took a seven-stroke lead into the final and despite recording a one-over 73, he had little difficulty wrapping up the tournament to secure a fifth PGA Tour title and the winner's cheque of almost €1.75m.

A double-bogey on the last saw Simpson finish on 18-under par which was four shots ahead of Charl Schwartzel, Jimmy Walker and Xander Schauffele, with European number one Tommy Fleetwood two shots further back in joint seventh.

Tiger Woods had to settle for a tie for 11th after finding water off the tee on the 17th and making a double bogey, but the same position was good enough for Justin Thomas to replace Dustin Johnson as world number one as Johnson finished just a shot behind.

Shane Lowry, meanwhile, looks to be coming into form for next week's BMW PGA after showing flashes of putting brilliance.

The Offaly star (31) has struggled for consistency this year, but could be one to watch again at Wentworth after making five birdies in a closing 71 to finish five-under-par.

Having made the cut on the mark after a gutsy 68 on Friday, Lowry totalled 17 birdies for the week.

And while the world no. 82 was left to rue two bogeys and a double bogey at the ninth, he was ranked an encouraging fourth for putting.

Lowry wasn't the only player to show form with reigning US Open champion Brooks Koepka carding a course record-equalling 63 after holing a six-iron from 208 yards at the 16th for only the second albatross two there.

The American then birdied the 17th and lipped out from 14 feet at the last for what would have been a new course record 62.

Before his albatross, Koepka had been complaining to his Irish caddie Ricky Elliot that he hadn't left himself a tap-in for birdie since coming back from a four-month injury layoff at Quail Hollow.

Meanwhile, West Waterford's Gary Hurley secured his best finish for two years and a place in this week's Andalucia - Costa del Sol Match Play 9 when he tied for fourth in the Challenge Tour's Open de Portugal.

Just two strokes off the lead overnight, the 25-year-old former Walker Cup star shot a one-under 71 to finish three strokes behind Australian Dimitrios Papadatos on four-under par.

Papadatos shot 69 to win by two shots from Portugal's José-Filipe Lima and Frenchman Antoine Rozner (70) on seven-under.

Hurley picked up €9,100 for his best finish on tour since he tied for fourth in Montecchia Open by Lyoness in May 2016, moving him to 37th in the Road to Ras Al Khaimah Rankings.

Ballymena's Dermot McElroy (73) tied for 45th on four-over with Tullamore's Stuart Grehan (76) 63rd on 10-over and Moyola Park's Chris Selfridge (79) two shots further back.

Former Northern Ireland Open Challenge winner Joakim Lagergren birdied the first extra hole from eight feet to beat Mike Lorenzo-Vera and claim his maiden European Tour title in Rocco Forte Sicilian Open.

The Swede closed with a 68 to overnight leader Lorenzo-Vera's 70 to leave them one shot clear of Australian Lucas Herbert and England's Andy Sullivan on 16-under at Verdura Golf Club.

In amateur golf, Scotland's Hannah McCook claimed Irish Women's Open Stroke Play Championship, just seven days after winning the Welsh Ladies Open.

Leading by a stroke overnight from Romy Meekers, she closed with a one-under 73 at County Louth to win by two strokes from the Dutch player, who shot 74, on one-over 223.

Lisburn's Paula Grant and England's Ebonie Lewis closed with one-over 75s to finish in a tie for third on six-over 228.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport