Tiger Woods beat a TPC Sawgrass course that has tormented him in recent history to win the 2013 Players Championship on Sunday with a 13-under, two-stroke victory over David Lingmerth, Kevin Streelman and Jeff Maggert.
This was Tiger's second Players Championship victory, and his first since 2001.
Sergio Garcia was tied for the lead late, but he dropped six shots to par on the final two holes to finish well off the pace.
This was earliest in the calendar year that Tiger has picked up his fourth Tour win of the season. This was also Tiger's 300th career PGA start. This means he has now won in his 100th, 200th and 300th Tour starts.
2013 Players Championship Final Leaderboard
After weather interrupted the third round, Woods finished his third round on Sunday morning playing alongside Sergio Garcia. The two both played solid, finishing their final four holes at one-under to sit tied for the 54-hole lead at 11-under par.
However, with David Lingmerth also completing the round at 11-under, Garcia and Woods were not paired in the final group. Lingmerth and Garcia comprised the final group.
This was unfortunate for fans, as it would have been great theater to watch Garcia and Woods go toe to toe for the final 18 after the recent drama between the two stars.
The situation at the top of the leaderboard was bad news for every golfer not named Tiger, as the legend had won a remarkable 51 of 55 PGA tournaments where he has had at least a share of the 54-hole lead.
As such, there didn't figure to be a lot of drama on Sunday. And for his part, Tiger looked intent on rolling his way to an easy win, as highlighted by ESPN's Bob Harig:
Bob Harig @BobHarig
Tiger makes turn with 2-shot lead. Has 3 birdies, 1 bogey. Missed 5 birdie putts between 10 and 19 feet.5/12/2013, 8:38:39 PM
Tiger was struggling a bit off the tee, but he was hitting his irons wonderfully, and while he had the five missed birdie putts, he was close. Woods rolled several of those misses right off the edge, and there was nothing to suggest he was going to make any mistakes that would allow anyone to catch up.
However, it's not like the other contenders were wilting away. Lingmerth, Jeff Maggert and Kevin Streelman were all piecing together solid rounds and spent Sunday right in contention.
Most notably, Garcia was also right in the mix. With one bogey and a birdie on the front, Garcia began the final nine at 12-under. A birdie on the par-three 13th moved Garcia to 11-under, which was good enough to give him a share of the lead.
After Woods birdied No. 13, he stepped up to the 14th tee and gave the field the opening they needed, as he splashed his tee shot in the water. Tiger hit an amazing shot following his drop, but after missing a relatively easy look at bogey, he couldn't get up and down and carded a double, to fall into a tie for first.
It was not long after this where Yahoo! Sports' Shane Bacon shared his befuddlement:
Shane Bacon @shanebacon
It's weird but Tiger is currently borrowing Sergio's body language and Sergio looks confident. Is it Mother's Day or April Fools?5/12/2013, 10:08:42 PM
With a bounce-back par on the 15th, and then a solid birdie on the par-five 16th, Woods' body language wasn't hurting his play, and the birdie on No. 16 moved him back into sole possession of the lead.
This led Tiger to the iconic 17th, which is when the Golf Channel caught this pic:
Tiger drilled a solid par on the island-green No. 17, and Garcia hit No. 17 knowing he would likely need a birdie on one of the two difficult closing holes to force a playoff.
He left his tee shot short and wet on No. 17 while his playing partner, Lingmerth, who was 12-under, drilled his tee shot.
As the roar created by Lingmerth's shot died down, Tiger stuck the fairway on No. 18 with a solid drive.
Lingmerth went on to miss his seven-foot birdie effort, and with Garcia earning a quadruple bogey, the drama was beginning to fade.
Woods went with an aggressive play on his approach as he went for the pin, and he drilled it. He narrowly missed his birdie attempt and tapped it in for par.
With Garcia adding to his disintegration, he splashed down off the tee on No. 18. This left it all on the 25-year-old Swede, who needed a birdie to force a playoff. He was just off the fairway with his drive, but he had a solid look on his approach. Lingmerth hit a solid approach but left himself far too much work. While he gave the long birdie putt a run, he missed, and as the ball cruised past the hole, Tiger began to celebrate in the clubhouse.
He was not so engrossed in celebration that he forgot about his mom on Mother's Day. And, given the late dramatics, he offered up this to the cameras, which was passed along by CBS:
CBS Sports @CBSSports
"Sorry mom, I think she might have had a heart attack." --Tiger Woods on his narrow victory. http://t.co/TwMxJUIBut5/12/2013, 11:14:09 PM
Given his struggles on this course in recent history, this was an impressive showing for Woods, and it will only cement his status as the favorite for the U.S. Open in June.
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