PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tiger Woods had the last word against Sergio Garcia by winning The Players Championship on Sunday.
Woods ended a weekend of verbal sparring with Garcia by doing what he does best – closing out tournaments – even if he let this one turn into a tense duel over the final hour at the TPC Sawgrass. Tied with Garcia with two holes to play, Woods won by finding land on the last two holes for par to close with a 2-under 70.
If only it were that simple for the Spaniard.
Garcia was standing on the 17th tee shot, staring across the water to an island as Woods made his par.
He took aim at the flag with his wedge and hung his head when he saw the ball splash down short of the green. Then, Garcia hit another one in the water on his way to a quadruple-bogey 7. He completed his stunning collapse by hitting his tee shot into the water on the 18th and making double bogey.
Woods was in the scoring trailer when he watched on TV as Swedish rookie David Lingmerth missed a long birdie putt that would have forced a playoff. It raced by the cup, and Lingmerth three-putted for bogey.
Lingmerth closed with a 72 and finished two shots behind along with Kevin Streelman (67) and Jeff Maggert, who also was tied for the lead until finding the water on the 17th to make double bogey. The 49-year-old Maggert birdied the 18th for a 70.
Garcia took 13 shots to cover the final two holes – 6-over par – and tumbled into a tie for eighth.
Woods made this drama possible by hooking his tee shot into the water on the 14th hole and making a double bogey, dropping him into a four-way tie with Garcia, Maggert and Lingmerth.
On Saturday, Garcia complained in a TV interview that his shot from the par-5 second fairway was disrupted by cheers from the crowd around Woods, who was 50 yards away in the trees and fired them up by taking a fairway metal out of his bag. He said Woods should have been paying attention.
“Not real surprising that he’s complaining about something,” Woods said.
“At least I’m true to myself,” Garcia retorted. “I know what I’m doing, and he can do whatever he wants.”
Woods and Garcia played four tension-free holes Sunday morning to complete the third round, and they shook hands without words when they finished – Woods with a 71, Garcia with a 72 to share the 54-hole lead with Lingmerth.
With a three-way tie, Garcia wound up in the final group because he was first to play at the start of the third round.
Garcia, however, continued to fuel the bad feelings between them.
He told Sky Sports, “I’m not going to lie, he’s not my favorite guy to play with. He’s not the nicest guy on tour.” And then he told Golf Channel, “We don’t enjoy each other’s company. You don’t need to be a rocket engineer to figure that out.”
Woods downplayed the episode and said it didn’t matter who joined him on the tee. “I’m tied for the lead, so I’m right there.”
And that’s where he usually wins. Woods now is 53-4 in his PGA Tour career when he has at least a share of the lead going into the final round.
All-time PGA Tour wins
1. Sam Snead 82 (7 majors)
2. Tiger Woods 78 (14 majors)
3. Jack Nicklaus 73 (18 majors)
4. Ben Hogan 64 (9 majors)
5. Arnold Palmer 62 (7 majors)
FYI: Woods became one of six players to win a second Players Championship; only Nicklaus has more titles with three. ... The TPC at Sawgrass was also the site of the first of Woods’ record three U.S. Amateur titles (1994-96).