Tiger Woods teed up his ball about 11:30 PDT on Sunday. He was tied for the lead at the Players Championship. Three players were at 11 under par, Woods, Sergio Garcia, and David Lingmerth, a rookie from Sweden. But Tiger would secure a difficult win.
Other than the wind, the course played well. Woods won in 2001, but has not fared well since. Garcia won in 2008, and Lingmerth had never been in the Players Championship previously. He had been playing on the Web.com circuit.
Both Woods and Garcia were pleased they were not paired together for the final round. To be honest, (rare in the reporting world), they just don’t like each other.
Woods teed off ahead of Garcia on Sunday, and played well enough to either stay at the top of the leaderboard, or be in a tie. When he arrived at the 14th tee, he was two strokes ahead of the field. TPC Sawgrass struck a blow for all golfers.
Tiger’s tee shot landed in the water. He made double bogey on the hole, and he and Garcia were tied. When Tiger birdied the 16th par 5, Garcia followed him and matched Woods.
The 17th hole at the TPC Sawgrass is legendary, and displayed in nearly every PGA golf film and brochure. It features a 3 par hole, that sits in the middle of an island. Players generally require no more than a pitching wedge, because the distance is minimal, but accuracy is crucial.
Tiger’s tee shot landed 47 feet away from the hole. His putt required going over a mound, and sliding downward to the hole positioned about three paces from the water’s edge. He placed the ball within three feet of the cup and made par. Tiger and Sergio continued to be in a tie.
After Tiger cleared the green, it was Sergio’s turn to attack the par 3 hole. He launched his pitching wedge straight at the pin, but it didn’t reach. He landed in the water. The drop zone made the next shot more difficult than did the tee area because of the pin location. Garcia chose to hit once more from the tee. Once more, he landed in the water.
Lingmerth took an enormous chance and landed his tee shot to the right of the hole, merely a single pace from the water’s edge. If he made the putt, he and Woods would be tied. He pushed his ball an inch high of the cup.
Tiger Woods played the 18th masterfully, making a par four. But he had to wait for Lingmerth to finish his round to see if his victory was secure.
Sergio Garcia found the water again on the 18th, while Lingmerth’s second shot gave him a chance for birdy, and a playoff with Woods. He missed the putt, and Tiger had won his 78th PGA tournament, and his 4th this year.
Golf fan or not, it was an exciting finish for what is described as the “5th major”.
Woods finished at 13 under par, and gave a ‘shout-out’ to his mother after he knew he had secured the victory.
“Sorry, mom. I think she might have had a heart attack,” Woods told the Golf Channel after his victory. “… It was tough, I wasn’t in control of the tournament.
He later added, “This was hard. The conditions got a little tricky. The greens got a little quick.”
The Guardian Express