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Close Doesn’t Count, Cat

Let me be—the very first person in the entire world to congratulate Webb Simpson on winning The Players championship yesterday.

May 14, 2018 - 1:32 pm

Let me do something absolutely insane here. Let me set world on the fire and watch it burn. Let me put three decades of legacy on the line to say something no one else will say.

Let me be—the very first person in the entire world to congratulate Webb Simpson on winning The Players championship yesterday.

I got you, Webb. Even if no one else does. Because while everyone else is hypnotized and stroking out over a T-11 finish way down the board, I’m more into that wire-to-wire wax job you just put on the entire field. I’m more into that four-stroke runaway victory you just engineered. I’m more into that course record-tying 63 you fired on Friday. I’m more into that 2 million dollar novelty cardboard check you just ripped.

Put simply: I’m more into winning. So Eldrick and that T-11 can wait. Because Webb Simpson deserves top billing in whatever Players conversation anyone is having today. Dude just ran away and hid with an impossible tournament to run away and hide with. He made Sawgrass look like a damn pitch and putt from Thursday to Sunday. Tee to green, no one was on this guy’s level. And NBC really had to no reason to show anyone else’s shots all weekend long except for the fact that they’d had to fill with something.

And if you were pulling for an all-time gag yesterday when he got to the yard with the largest 54-hole lead in tournament history—then you were rooting against the wrong guy. My man’s got some US Open hardware from 2012 that says he knows how to finish tournaments. Which is why a pack of the world’s best bat-swingers couldn’t get closer than four strokes all day long. 

Which brings us to Eldrick. Because Cat dropped the cinderblock on the gas pedal as soon as Hefty and those horrible dress shirts got the hell off the property Friday afternoon. Weekday Eldrick went Weekend Tiger. And Weekday Eldrick went from the cut line on the number Friday to a tie for 2ndplace 12 holes in on Sunday. Take nothing from the dude. He flipped a switch on the weekend.

Kind of.

On paper he was 10 under Saturday and Sunday. In reality and on the track he was a dude that couldn’t finish on the back nine either day. On Saturday he went out at 30 and came five shots worse at 35. Yes, there’s something to be said that his best ever round at The Players just happened. In 2018. But there’s also something more to be said about a guy who made a name on closing but can’t seem to do it.

Yesterday—more of the same. Cat played the first 12 holes at 6-under and then gave three back down the stretch—including a rinse job double at 17. 

When he finished 12th at The Honda he closed his last 4 holes at 3 over. And when he finished tied for 5th at Bay Hill he carded his last three at plus 2. Don’t shoot the messenger, Honks—but your guy—for the first time ever—is showing a tendency to gas out. This isn't me throwing shade. This is me reading his cards.

Yes, he’s closer than anyone would have ever thought. But close doesn’t matter. Not if you’re not gonna snap hook bazookas into people’s backyards at Bay Hill, and dunk Bridgestone’s in water at 17 at Sawgrass. Close doesn't matter when you've been stuck on 14 majors and 79 tour victories for half a decade. Close doesn't matter when you're playing to remembered as the best ever.

Physically—it’s all there for the Cat. Hell, even the big stick was working. But the mental edge is gone. He doesn't scare anyone. Not even Webb Simpson. And when you're playing from behind and no one's checking their rear-view for you like they used to--then you're gonna have to show up and post numbers before Saturday to finally win one of these things.

Or else you're just be close. Forever.