USA GOLF THE PLAYERS
Webb Simpson believes his dominant Players Championship win marks the resurrection of his career after hitting rock bottom in the years following his 2012 US Open triumph.
Simpson was perhaps the hardest hit when golf's rule-makers banned the anchoring of putters to the body in January 2016, which plunged the American into an almost five-year winless drought on the US PGA Tour.
But the 32-year-old showed no signs of scar tissue across past four days as he enjoyed a masterclass on the greens during a four-shot victory at TPC Sawgrass.
Starting the final round with the tournament's largest-ever 54-hole lead of seven shots, Simpson held on tight during a one-over-par 73 to finish at 18 under 270.
Despite finding the water with his second shot on the last hole, resulting in a double-bogey 6, Simpson left runners-up Charl Schwartzel, Jimmy Walker and Xander Schauffele (all 67s) in his wake at 14 under.
Simpson, who used a longer, broomstick putter during his only major victory, admitted he struggled after the ban.
"I certainly disagreed with the decision," Simpson said, labelling it a kneejerk reaction to Keegan Bradley (2011 US PGA Championship) and Australia's Adam Scott (2013 Masters) using an anchored putter to win major titles.
"To learn a new skill in the middle of your career was the biggest challenge.
"It made working hard and staying positive that much harder."
Buoyed by his win at golf's unofficial fifth major, Simpson has set his sights on a second US Open crown.
"I think the US Open (is achievable) because I really like when par is a good score," Simpson said.
"To beat the best field in golf will give me confidence going into the majors and World Golf Championship events."
The North Carolina native also said he wished his father, Sam, who died last year after a battle with Parkinson's disease, could have witnessed an emotional fifth US Tour victory.
"I thought about him all day; we miss him like crazy," Simpson said.
Jason Day finished as leading Australian in a share of fifth place with a 68 lifting him to 13 under.
Day mixed two early birdies with a holed bunker shot for eagle at the ninth, but his surge fizzled with an even par back nine.
Meanwhile, two-time Players winner Tiger Woods pulled out all the stops during his final-round 69.
Woods raced up the leaderboard, picking up six shots through 12 holes, before the wheels came off with a bogey at the 14th and a double-bogey 5 at the famous par-3 17th.
Woods settled for a share of 11th at 11 under, alongside former Players winner Adam Scott (68).
Scott's fellow Australian Marc Leishman struggled to a 76 to share 63rd at three under.