Youth was served again in the month of May on the PGA TOUR. So was perseverance.
All in all, it was an entertaining stretch in professional golf.
Webb Simpson, who struggled to find that winning touch after having to abandon the belly putter with which he won the 2012 U.S. Open, got back on track in a big way. Leading by seven strokes through 54 holes at TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, Simpson posted a four-stroke victory to win The Players in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
The victory was Simpson’s fifth on the PGA TOUR and first in nearly five years. It was special after he had missed the cut at TPC Sawgrass in four of his previous eight appearances. It was more special because he overcame the challenge of incorporating a new putting style after the USGA banned anchoring a stroke against a player’s body – the only style Simpson had known.
Simpson shot a ho-hum final-round 73 and finished at 18-under 270. The victory was worth $1.98 million and copious amounts of redemption.
“It’s been a long time, but we did it,” Simpson said as he embraced his wife Dowd on the final green.
Elsewhere on the PGA TOUR, Jason Day won the for the second time this season, Justin Rose did likewise, and the aforementioned youth had its day when 21-year old Aaron Wise won a shootout at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
A winner in January at the Farmers Insurance Open, Day added the Wells Fargo Championship to his resume, shooting 12-under 272 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., to beat Wise and Nick Watney by two strokes. Day posted four rounds in the 60s to win at the venue where last August he let a chance to win the PGA Championship slip away.
Rose registered one of the season’s more surprising wins last November when he overcame at six-shot deficit to Dustin Johnson the final day to steal the WGC-HSBC Champions. This time, he won while playing with a lead, staying in front the last three days at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, to with the Fort Worth Invitational.
A final-round 64 and 20-under 260 total enabled Rose to hold off reigning U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka as he won for the ninth time on the PGA TOUR, tying Nick Faldo for most TOUR wins by a player from England in the modern era.
Wise meanwhile, overcame the disappointment of his near miss at the Wells Fargo for an impressive bounce back at the AT&T Byron Nelson outside of Dallas.
He emerged from a shootout with veteran Marc Leishman to win in just his 15thPGA TOUR start. Wise, 21, fired a final-round 6-under 65 at Trinity Forest Golf Club for a record 23-under 261 total. He defeated Leishman, who opened with a 61, by three strokes.
On the LPGA Tour, winners were familiar. And formidable. Sung Hyun Park, Ariya Jutanugarn and Minjee Lee took home trophies, making it 13 different winners in 13 events this year.
Park, co-rookie of the year last year, didn’t have to work as hard as the others in winning the rain-shortened Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic at The Colony, Texas. With a 36-hole total of 11-under 131, Park beat xxx by two strokes. She chipped in for birdie on the final hole in closing with a 6-under 65 at Old American Golf Club for a one-stroke win over Lindy Duncan and her third career victory.
No. 1 in the Rolex World Rankings, Jutanugarn joined her sister Moriya in the winner’s circle this year by beating Nasa Hataoka and In Gee Chun in a playoff at the rain-shortened Kingsmill Championship. Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 66 to tie Hataoka and Chun at 14-under 199 in the tournament cut to 54 holes.
Jutanugarn won on the second extra hole by sinking a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th green at the River Course at Kingsmill Golf Club in Williamsburg, Va. It was her eighth career victory. Moriya, her older sister, won the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in Los Angeles in April for her first LPGA title.
Lee celebrated her 22nd birthday in style, birdieing the last hole to win the LPGA Tour’s Volvik Championship by one shot. Lee fired a closing four-under-par 68 at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich., to beat In-Kyung Kim by a stroke. Lee, who finished at 16-under 272, rebounded from a bogey on the previous hole to win her fourth LPGA title.