It was his to lose.
"I hit it so good", said Woods, glossing over a number of less-than-ideal wedge shots in the final round. He had history on his side.
It was all but a given the Simpson would win after he blitzed the course over the first three days. With the U.S. Open around the corner, and the Ryder Cup on the horizon, this could just be the tip of the iceberg. "Through that, I expected him to be frustrated at times, and he never was".
Look beyond the grand narrative, though, and Simpson was completing a career resurrection of his own.
However, it was a tip from Tim Clark - who is now out of golf, some say due to injury and some say due to the ban of the anchored putter - that turned his game around 12 months ago. "It felt pretty awkward". Once it was announced last week he was going to play, the thoughts of him returning to the winners' circle started to come. "If he got off to a half-decent start, I mean who knows what would have happened on the weekend". I hit some shots in the correct spots, which was nice. Historically, that was insurmountable.
Having won 14 major championships and 79 PGA Tour events in his career, Woods is not much concerned with where he is in the various rankings. Perhaps he would even attack Greg Norman's tournament record of 24-under-par. He is the only player to have won The Players Championship when it was held in March (2001) and May (2013).
Galleries were lined up five to 25 and more deep, depending on whether there was a viewing mound. As a fan, a commentator and a coach, it was great to see. More like Augusta National, if you have been there.
"There's so many people that are part of the puzzle".
For Jordan Spieth, it ended with a kick in the teeth as he signed off with a quadruple-bogey 8. Only one spoke English.
In the morning, Brooks Koepka (63), who also had the PLAYERS second-ever albatross on the 16th, showed low scorers were possible, but for anyone to make a bid, Simpson would also need to falter. It rolled to within three feet. "I don't know if it's from because I've had back issues and it's gone from my back to my shoulder now". He birdied the seventh and bogeyed the eighth. He was safely ahead, and that was all he wanted.
When Simpson replied that he was, Tesori called him out. He then shot a 7-under 65 in Round 3 to move into the top 10, but he struggled Sunday playing alongside Woods. "We miss him like insane, but I really wanted to do this for my mom".
Simpson carded 19-under through 54 holes.
And that stayed as the margin even after an expansive double bogey on 18th by Simpson.
But then it got old.
"He's clearly playing some really good golf", fellow golfer Jason Day said. While Tiger would give it a good run, the tournament belonged to Webb Simpson. His lead stymied the rest. "We've spent the last few years, many dinners with me in tears being frustrated about my golf game, and she was right there the whole time just supporting me", he said, accepting the trophy.
While Woods didn't really get close enough to have an intimidatory effect on this occasion, fair play to Simpson, a former US Open victor, for landing his first victory since 2013 in real style. More on that to come. There were plenty of positives to take but he's not the finished article.
They went from a tie for 68th to a tie for ninth.