Sergio Garcia ended the longest victory drought of his career on Sunday by making a clutch par putt to force a playoff, and then adding another par on the TPC Sawgrass’ notorious island green 17th hole to defeat Paul Goydos in the Players Championship.
Haunted by putting problems that kept him without a victory the past three years and 53 events on the US golf tour, Garcia sunk a 45-foot birdie attempt on the 14th and a 7-foot par putt on the 18th hole for a 1-under 71.
Goydos, playing in the final group, missed a 15-foot par putt on the last hole for the win. He closed with a 74.
It was the first playoff at The Players since 1987, and the first time the US PGA Tour opted to start it on the most notorious par 3 in golf. The shot was only 128 yards, but into a 50kph to a green surrounded by water.
Goydos, the first player to hit into the water when the tournament began on Thursday, splashed again when his wedge came up short. Garcia hit his shot on dry land and watched it roll to 4 feet.
He missed the birdie putt, but completed the par for the victory as Goydos wound up making double bogey.
“It’s been a lot of work,” Garcia said, clutching the crystal trophy. “It feels like the last three years I’ve been playing well.”
Garcia and Goydos finished at 5-under 283.
The 28-year-old Spaniard earned US$1.71 million from the richest purse in golf.