Simpson ties course record for Players lead

Leader Webb Simpson walks to the 17th green during the second round of the Players Championship

Camera Icon Leader Webb Simpson walks to the 17th green during the second round of the Players Championship

Tiger Woods' weekend plans were as unstable as his iron play Friday.

Woods drained a 17-footer on the fifth and further birdies followed at seven and nine, where he two-putted from 40 feet. Spieth three-putted from 35 feet, though he shot 68 and ended three straight years missing the cut.

World No 9 Hideki Matsuyama was another casualty, with much of the damage being done by taking 13 shots to negotiate the 17th over the two rounds, while Phil Mickelson also packed his bags after he bogeyed the last three holes to slump to eight over par. He finished off a 4-under-par 68 by hitting out of a bunker and making a 17-foot par putt on No. 18.

Webb Simpson stormed into a commanding lead at the halfway stage of The Players Championship as Rory McIlroy missed the cut at TPC Sawgrass.

"That water is going to taste like acid in a minute when I finally have a drink", Poulter said.

"I'm trying not to dwell there".

"Over the whole day I hit a lot of quality shots - 65 was probably as high as I could have shot today, which was nice". Half the time when I miss fairways here I end up thinking to myself "how have you done that, it's bloody massive!"

"Just got to keep my hat down and play my own game and".

It was also the lowest score in Woods' 66 career trips around the Stadium course, where he won in 2001 and 2013.

Jordan Spieth, playing a few groups before Woods, made six birdies - and a bogey - on the back nine to match Woods' 65.

Meanwhile, Simpson tied Greg Norman's 54-hole scoring record, as the American remained in cruise control atop the on day three.

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Dustin Johnson at least improved his chances of staying for No. 1 with four birdies over his final 10 holes for a 69.

No one has ever lost a seven-shot lead in the final round on the PGA Tour. And with danger lurking at every corner on the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, that would suggest that the crystal and largest paycheque in golf - just shy of $2 million U.S. - doesn't belong to Simpson just yet.

From the start, signs showed the four-time major champion wasn't up to scratch.

The 32-year-old, who has four PGA Tour victories, was as surprised as anyone with his score and said he would have been happy with Lee's 12-under total if he had been offered it before the start of the event.

"The ball is going a long way and the golf course is playing short".

"These guys are going to go low today again", Woods predicted.

Simpson was one of a handful of players who paid the heaviest price. "I birdied the first couple of holes, and I just kept it rolling from there".

"Unfortunately, the part of the ball that was showing was just all the white and dimples", said Fowler. "I've been a pro since 2008, and I feel like you never know when a week like this will come. This is a hard tournament to come to after a three-week break".

"I'm thankful that I've put together a year of pretty solid putting, and it's really helped my golf kind of get me to the player that I want to be", Simpson said.

One thing he knows for sure: Sunday is Mother's Day, and Simpson knows his biggest fan will be dialed into the coverage. 8 and 14 wrapped around a birdie at the ninth and sand-shot eagle at the par-5 11th hole.

Woods admitted that after reaching 8 under through 12 holes, he felt a course-record 62 was within reach.

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