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THE PLAYERS Championship
TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
This past week the PGA Tour held THE PLAYERS Championship on their home course, TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, built by Pete Day. The Stadium Course was built to be a great test of PGA Tour players and also provide "stadium" viewing for the fans. Thus the "Stadium" part of the name. THE PLAYERS boasts the strongest field in professional golf, and the biggest single purse as well, with $9,500,000 in prize money. The winner takes home $1.71 million and 600 FedEx Cup points. Was the quality of golf high and the viewing for the fans great? It almost always is at this event.
In the first round of the tournament Roberto Castro took the lead with an amazing 63. Most players don't follow up super low rounds with another one, and Castro's 2nd round 78 was a prime example. In striking range after day one though, were Rory McIlory and Tiger Woods. Day two found Woods firing a 2nd consecutive 67, putting him tied at the top of the leaderboard with Sergio Garcia. They played the third round together, where Garcia edged Woods by a shot. During the round there were "words" between the two and post-round both expressed that they weren't big fans of each other.
Garcia and Woods would not be in the final pairing Sunday. Woods was in the 2nd to last group and Garcia was in the last group with unknown David Lingmerth, fresh off the Web.com Tour. Players like Jeff Maggert (49) and Lingmerth had flashes during the final round, flirting with the lead. In the end it came down to Garcia and Woods in the last three holes.
Woods and Garcia were tied for the lead while woods was on the 18th tee and Garcia on the 17th tee, the island par-3 green. What happened next was, shall we say, interesting. Garcia hit pitching wedge to the right pin on the island green. It didn't have enough to carry onto the green and splashed into the pond. Garcia re-teed from the same spot and hit another shot in the water. On the 2nd re-tee, he was hitting his 5th shot. That one hit the middle of the green where Garcia would two-putt for a quadruple bogey 7. For good measure, Garcia hit his drive in the water on the 18th.
Garcia's water issues left only one competitor with a chance to challenge Tiger, who had now finished his round and was in the clubhouse sitting at -13. David Lingmerth was was one shot behind Tiger on the 18th tee. His drive went through the fairway into bermuda rough which made it hard to control. His approach ended up some 60 feet long. He'd have to make a 60 footer to force a playoff, an "one in 50 putt" according to Johnny Miller. Lingmerth 3-putted, cementing a two-shot victory for Woods.
This win for Woods marked the fourth of the 2013 season. In NO season during Tiger's career has he reached four wins so quickly. This win was also on Tiger's 300'th PGA Tour start. On the season Woods has four victories and no other player has more than one. Player of the year could be wrapped up before the halfway point of the season.
The other major tours, LPGA, Champions and European Tour, were off this week.