Tiger Woods shook off a double-bogey at the 14th hole on Sunday and held on to win the US PGA Tour Players Championship, setting another career milestone in the process.
Woods, who had a share of the lead with Sergio Garcia and David Lingmerth after completing the weather-disrupted third round on Sunday morning, carded a final-round 70 for a 13-under-par total of 275.
That put him two strokes in front of Swedish PGA Tour rookie Lingmerth, Jeff Maggert and Kevin Streelman.
Garcia, tied for the lead at the 17th, finished with a quadruple-bogey and a double-bogey, giving Woods the last laugh after a couple of days of verbal sparring between the two.
Woods won the US tour’s flagship event, worth US$9.5 million this year, for the second time — more than a decade after his victory in 2001.
Since then, he had posted only one top-10 finish at TPC Sawgrass until Sunday.
Woods notched his fourth PGA Tour title of the year, and it was the earliest in a single season he has ever won a fourth title.
“Each year, I’m tying to get better,” Woods said. “So far this year, I’m off to a pretty good start.”
His 78th tour win came in his 300th start — he also won in his 100th and 200th starts.
Woods had built a two-stroke lead through 13 holes of the final round, but he found the water off the tee at 14 and ended up with a double-bogey that dropped him into a four-way tie for the lead with Maggert, Garcia and Lingmerth.
Garcia and Lingmerth, playing in the final group right behind Woods, had both just birdied 13.
“Just hit absolutely the worst shot I could possibly hit,” Woods said of his tee shot at 14. “But it was the only bad swing I made all day. I told myself I could still win the tournament.”
He made no more mistakes from there, adding a birdie at the par-five 16th to get to 13-under and finishing with back-to-back pars.
Garcia got to 13-under with a birdie at 16.
Garcia said before the final round he was happy not to be playing in the same group with Woods.
“I think it’s probably good for both of us,” said Garcia after the pair’s uneasy relationship took another hit on Saturday, when the Spaniard complained that a move by Woods to remove a club from his bag just as Garcia was hitting a shot sparked distracting crowd noise.
Woods said he thought Garcia had already hit when he pulled the club, adding it was “not real surprising that he’s complaining about something.”
That brought a huffy response from the Spaniard.
“At least I’m true to myself,” he said. “I know what I’m doing, and he can do whatever he wants.”
Playing with the little-known Lingmerth did not do Garcia any good when it came to the par-three 17th, TPC Sawgrass’ signature hole with its island green.
Garcia was in the water twice en route to a quadruple-bogey seven, then took a double-bogey at 18 — where he was also in the water — to cap a four-over 76 that left him tied for eighth on seven-under 281.
Garcia won the Players in 2008 in a playoff at the 17th against Paul Goydos.
“That hole has been good to me for the most part,” Garcia said. “Today it wasn’t. That’s the way it is. That’s the kind of hole it is. You’ve got to love it for what it is.”
Maggert fell back with a double-bogey at 17, closing with a two-under 70 for 11-under 277. Streelman carded a 67 to grab his share of second on 277.
Lingmerth was the last player with a chance to challenge Woods, but he was unable to convert his birdie attempt at 17 and pull level and he closed with a bogey for an even-par 72 for 277.