The Webb in Simpson's Mind
Leading by 7 strokes after 54 holes, the largest lead going into day 04 of the Players Championship 2018, I wouldn't want to be Webb Simpson today.
Just imagine the weight of expectations from family, friends, and well-wishers. Webb is no rookie on the PGA tour, having recorded 4 PGA tour wins in his career and about USD 25 million in career earnings to date.
But, ever since that famous win at the US Open 2012, his only major championship win, his trophy cupboard has been empty.
The common belief is that the anchor/belly putter ban applied by the PGA that formally came into effect in 2016 required Webb to change his putter and his putting style and it's taken him almost 6 years to readjust and adapt to a new putter.
And now imagine the pressure on Webb as he goes into Day 04 at the Players. Remember that 17 of the 18 holes have water bodies; the layout requires you to play the contours carefully, the greens are slippery and the wind can make you question your choice of club.
Webb must be thankful that Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Jordan Speith, Justin Rose, Patrick Reed and Jason Day are too far behind to pose any significant or realistic threat.
Out of this lot, Dustin (10 under par) & Justin (9 under par) will have to go lower than 63, the course record, to mount a challenge. That would be just too preposterous to imagine. Tiger and Speith, both at T17, will have to better their spectacular rounds yesterday, by a big margin, to emerge as serious challengers.
Danny Lee, trailing Webb by seven shots, has the best chance to challenge Webb for the crown. However, Danny, with just one PGA tour win at the Greenbrier Classic in 2015, will have his own demons to fight.
Having never been at this stage before, Danny’s focus today will be on delivering a good account of himself and not necessarily focusing on the outcome. Which brings us back to Webb. What should he do?
How should he approach Day 04? No one else can beat him today. Except, Webb himself. Clearly, today's round will be a defining moment in his life. He has to guard against letting the occasion get to him.
What he does today will define his legacy. Webb needs to focus on the swing, keep the ball in the fairway, keep the game in front, not take unnecessary risks, trust his lines, ignore the crowds, not play for glory and definitely not try to challenge the course.
He has to play with confidence knowing that he will come across a few difficult situations in the next 4 hours and 18 holes.
And he has no choice but to deal with those tough situations, one frustrating sigh, two deep breaths and three practice swings at a time.
He has to aim to shoot a 70-72 to win today. Best of luck. This is yours to win.
See you on the other side of greatness Webb.