Sam Torrance: Webb Simpson deserves the plaudits but Tiger Woods is most definitely back

Sam Torrance
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THE PLAYERS Championship - Final Round
Webb Simpson recorded a four-shot victory at The Players Championship (Source: Getty)

Rejuvenated Webb Simpson deserves all the plaudits and headlines he is receiving after holding his nerve to post a dominant victory at The Players Championship on Sunday.

The 32-year-old entered the final round with a seven-shot lead over New Zealand’s Danny Lee and carded a 73 on Sunday to finish four strokes clear, on 18 under par, of South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel and fellow Americans Jimmy Walker and Xander Schauffele.

Simpson is a very accomplished performer but has been in the doldrums for a while; his triumph in Florida was the fifth PGA Tour title of his career, but his first since October 2013.

THE PLAYERS Championship - Final Round
Webb Simpson has won five PGA Tour titles during his career (Source: Getty)

He is a lovely player but one of the unfortunate ones who started his career with the belly putter when it was legal. When it became illegal, he had to find another method and, like others in that generation, he had never used the short putter.

Simpson’s method of putting sees the club go up his left arm to his elbow and he employs the pencil grip to putt with his right hand. Finding a method that works for him has been crucial and key to his win at Sawgrass. There are bigger things to come from him.

Eighteen-time Major winner Tiger Woods finished seven shots adrift of Simpson on 11 under but at one stage closed the gap to four with a birdie on the 12th hole. After the weekend, there is no doubt that Tiger is back.

THE PLAYERS Championship - Final Round
Tiger Woods continued his renaissance with an impressive performance at Sawgrass (Source: Getty)

He has had some excellent performances following his return from injury and we’ve seen flashes but this was a big one and I thought he was magnificent. Some of his play was vintage Tiger.

His game looks as good as it ever has, he performed under all the pressure which was thrown at him and a lot more people will now agree with me that the 42-year-old can win at least one more Major.

It was a reasonable week for English pair Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Poulter, who finished tied for seventh and 11th respectively, although I really don’t know what to say about Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy missed the cut following a disappointing 74 during the second round. His game wants for nothing and he can do anything with a golf ball but week in, week out now he seems to have frailties.

THE PLAYERS Championship - Round Two
Rory McIlroy struggled and did not have the week he expected in Florida (Source: Getty)

I guess it is further evidence of how good Tiger was that earlier in his career he didn’t miss a cut for eight years. Four-time Major winner McIlroy is going to be one of the all-time greats but he misses cuts like anyone else, which Tiger did not do.

The 29-year-old is a real favourite of mine. He came to stay with me when he was 14 and played with my son, who is the same age as him, and he thoroughly impressed me. Ever since, I have followed his career with glee.

But he has just slowed down a little bit and is not the McIlroy that I thought he was going to be. Having won so many Majors so early – three by the age of 25 – he should be knocking them off at this stage of his career and at least one a year.

He just needs to find that spark again and get over the line in another Major or win a series of tournaments in quick succession and then I’m sure he would start to replicate the volume of big victories he did in the past.

Finally, I was delighted to see Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren clinch his first European Tour title by winning a play-off at the Sicilian Open. It was a fantastic performance and the 26-year-old is a star in the making.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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