Jason Day can chase home the imperious Webb Simpson
Runner-up spot could go to in-form Aussie
Sky Sports Golf, 2.30pm Sunday
Story so far
Webb Simpson has dominated the Players Championship through three rounds, setting a new 54-hole scoring record at 19 under par, forging a seven-shot advantage at the top of the leaderboard.
Simpson, trading at 170 on Betfair on Monday when a general 100-1 chance with bookmakers, was freely available at 80-1 on tournament-eve, but no bigger than 1-9 is on offer with 18 holes to play at TPC Sawgrass.
The 2012 US Open champion has been inspired from the off, opening with a 66, then following up with a 63 and a 68. He holed a 17-foot par putt at the final hole of round three to stay seven clear.
Danny Lee, an ante-post 400-1 rag, is alone in second place, two shots ahead of third-placed Dustin Johnson. The world number one looks set to retain his status. Jordan Spieth is tied for eighth, Justin Thomas is 33rd, Justin Rose is 55th and Jon Rahm is 69th, while Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama missed the cut.
-19 Webb Simpson
-12 Danny Lee
-10 Dustin Johnson
-9 Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker, Xander Schauffele, Jason Day, Charl Schwartzel
-8 Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Tommy Fleetwood, Ian Poulter, Harold Varner, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay
1-9 W Simpson, 22 D Johnson, D Lee, 40 J Day, 80 J Spieth, 100 T Woods, 125 bar
Webb Simpson has produced the performance of his life over the first three days. A 66 or better in round four would beat a Sawgrass 72-hole record which looked set to stand forever more. Greg Norman's 24-under-par total from 1994 was remarkable, but Simpson is hunting it down.
A more important statistic for punters is the fact that nobody has ever lost a seven-shot final-round lead on the US Tour. Seven players have lost six-shot leads – Dustin Johnson did so at the WGC-HSBC Champions in October – but seven is a magic number.
Sawgrass is a water-strewn layout where cardbusters are always possible, and Alex Cejka squandered a five-shot Sunday lead in 2009, but Simpson seems to be playing too well for disaster to strike. This grinder has found a putting stroke which is working wonders – he leads the field in strokes-gained putting – and has one hand on the Players trophy.
A cloudy afternoon with light breezes is forecast for the denouement, providing the chasing pack with the opportunity of shooting a low final round, but it also makes it easier for Simpson to avoid serious strife.
Johnson, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods will probably card something in the mid-to-low 60s to apply some pressure, but Simpson can be fancied to play smart, conservative golf, churn out pars, and do enough to take the title. An under-par round would mean almost certain victory.
Racing Post Sport followers are on Simpson ante-post at 80-1, so are in a formidable position. Johnson (22-1), Danny Lee (22-1) and Jason Day (40-1) are the trio who should be most feared in terms of ruining the party, so cautious punters may choose to cover on all three, but others may opt to keep faith in Simpson and have an extra wager on the battle for runner-up honours.
Day, the 2016 Sawgrass champion, is in determined mood as he bids to work his way back up the world rankings and challenge for the FedEx Cup. He won the Wells Fargo Championship seven days ago and can claim the runner-up spot this week.
Final-round twoball punters should chance Cheng-Tsung Pan in the 2.15pm (UK and Ireland time) match against Brooks Koepka, who has fitness and form issues and could easily lose interest from so far down the leaderboard. Pan will be fully focused for 18 holes.
Spieth and Woods meet in a blockbuster twoball at 7.05pm. The final match of Simpson versus Lee does not tee off until 7.45pm.
J Day without W Simpson
2pts 13-2 Betfair, Power
1pt 9-5 BoyleSports
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