The Punter's De-Brief: Simpson saunters home at Sawgrass and Lagergren breaks his duck

Golfer Webb Simpson
Webb Simpson celebrates his win on the 18th green
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Joakim Lagergren is a European Tour winner for the first time while Webb Simpson landed his fifth PGA Tour victory nearly five years after his last. Read our man's take on all the action at both events here...

"After opening rounds of 72 and 71, Tiger Only just made the cut at Sawgrass, a venue that he’s never really played consistently well at, even in his absolute pomp, but he made such a move over the weekend that he was matched at just [11.0] in-running yesterday!"

Eventual winner, Joakim Lagergren, fired a brilliant four-under-par 32 on the front-nine at the Rocco Forte Sicily Open yesterday and for a long time, the final round looked like being a bit of a damp squib. The Swede, who was looking for his first win on the European Tour, hit a low of [1.39] as he looked to have every facet of his game in tip-top order, despite the pressure he was under, and even though he wasn't at his best on the back-nine, he still looked like he was going to hold the field at bay comfortably.

Lucas Bjerregaard looked like being the main danger coming in but he repeatedly missed very makeable putts before eventually driving over the cliff on 18 but Mike Lorenzo-Vera collared the Swede at the 17th when he made birdie after an iffy drive. Lorenzo-Vera and Lagergren both parred the 18th in regulation before the Swede won the event in style with a birdie at the first extra hole.

Lagergren, who was matched at a high of [80.0], was generally a [48.0] chance before the off. This was his 131st start on the European Tour and on reflection, although he started the final round well, he was arguably a little fortunate not to have been challenged more sternly given he shot something of a lacklustre back-nine on Sunday that contained eight pars and a bogey.

I watched the playoff somewhat apathetically, but the next time Lorenzo-Vera's in-the-mix I can see myself cheering him on. It's fair to say he wants that elusive European Tour win quite badly.

Over at the Players Championship, as suspected, Webb Simpson sauntered to victory. He began the final round leading by seven and even though he shot a one-over-par 73, which ended with a double-bogey at the 72nd hole, he still won comfortably by four strokes and he never really looked like relinquishing his lead.

Simpson was matched for substantial sums at [110.0] early on but he was generally an [80.0] chance before the off.

My Bets

As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I managed to board the Simpson train at halfway when the stats were so glaringly in his favour but I still lost money on the week.

I'll look to back a few from off the pace in Sicily again though. Paul Krishnamurty's excellent 125/1 each-way selection, Lucas Herbert, was the third player in three renewals to come from miles off the pace and get beat by just a stroke.

I got a small bet matched at an average of [400.0] with a round to go so it was a case of close but no cigar.

Players to Watch

Paul's man, Herbert, was really impressive yesterday and he's definitely one to have onside at a big price and another youngster plying his trade on the European Tour, Austin Connelly, looks worth keeping an eye on again too.

The 21-year-old Texas-based Canadian finished 14th at the Open Championship last year so he clearly has plenty of game but he's been a bit disappointing this year on the European Tour. He shot 41 on the back-nine on Friday to put himself too far back to mount a serious challenge in Sicily but his 65-66 on the weekend was eye-catching and he might just fly now he's healthy again, having suffered with some sort of virus that he hadn't even been aware he'd contracted.

Harold Varner, Danny Lee and Xander Schauffele all found a bit of form at the Players Championship but the man to impress me the most was Tiger Woods.

After opening rounds of 72 and 71, Tiger only just made the cut at Sawgrass, a venue that he's never really played consistently well at, even in his absolute pomp, but he made such a move over the weekend that he was matched at just [11.0] in-running yesterday!

I've been very sceptical about whether he can return to the upper echelons of the game after so much time away and of course, after such major surgery, but seeing how well he played this weekend, and, in particular, how focused he was yesterday, I've had a comprehensive about turn.

He was a tiny bit unconvincing in-the-mix at the Valspar Championship and it must be pointed out that he finished yesterday's round poorly (three-over-par for the last five holes) so he may need one or two more events in which he contends first but I'll be surprised if doesn't win again quite soon.

We've got a couple of really nice events to look forward to this week. On the European Tour, Thomas Pieters hosts the inaugural Belgian Knockout and on the PGA Tour, the AT&T Byron Nelson moves to Trinity Forest - a superb looking links layout. I'll be back tomorrow with my previews.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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