2014 Players Championship: Winners and Losers from TPC Sawgrass

Ben Alberstadt@benalberstadtFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2014

2014 Players Championship: Winners and Losers from TPC Sawgrass

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    Whether you were rooting for a Jordan Spieth or Martin Kaymer win at the Players Championship, you'd have to concede that the final round never lacked for excitement, although it was occasionally of the "rubbernecking at a car accident" variety. 

    As Spieth faltered down the stretch and Kaymer made a sincere effort to do the same, both have earned spots on this list of winners and losers from the Players. 

    What else is on the list? Try a clandestine marriage and a new and innovative way to butcher TPC Sawgrass' famous 17th hole. 

    Read on for the breakdown.

Winner: German Effectiveness

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    When play resumed following a weather delay at the Players, Martin Kaymer looked like a pale (and rather damp) shade of the golfer who went into the interruption with a three-stroke lead. He certainly didn't head to the 15th hole of the tournament looking anything like the golfer who carded a brilliant opening-round 63 and hung tough over the next two rounds. 

    Kaymer made a series of mental mistakes on the hole and carded a double-bogey six, which opened the door for a number of challengers. Failing to take advantage of the par-five 16th, Kaymer was then the victim of bad luck at the 17th when his tee shot spun aggressively off a downslope and nearly ended up in the water.

    The German chunked his pitch from that point and found himself standing over a bending 30-foot putt to save par and head to the final hole with a one-stroke lead. Certainly, he seemed to be writing the story of his meltdown at that point, and we expected him to miss, then maybe bungle the 18th to lose by a stroke.

    Instead, Kaymer poured in the putt and headed to the 18th leading by one. Against all reason, he pulled out his driver—instead of a more conservative club—and pounded his tee shot down the middle of the fairway en route to a one-stroke win. 

    Was the final round, particularly the back nine, brilliant and coldly surgical? No. And at points, it was quite the opposite. In short: Kaymer was a model of "German effectiveness" rather than "German efficiency."

Loser: Jordan Spieth

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    Jordan Spieth entered the final round of the Players seeking to avenge himself of a heartbreaking second-place finish at the Masters one month ago. 

    The 20-year-old began his day tied with Kaymer at 12 under. After two birdies in his first four holes, Spieth looked on his way to the second win of his brief career. However, he wouldn't make another birdie until the 16th hole.

    Unfortunately, too, he made five bogeys during the stretch between the birdies, as his short game and putting let him down on the back nine.

    For the young Texan, the T4 finish and final-round 74 have to be disappointing.

Winner: Secret Marriages

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    Score one for secrecy: Australian golf writer Ben Everill reported (and then later tweeted) Adam Scott married his longtime girlfriend weeks ago at a private ceremony. 

    And get this: In an environment where celebrities' phones are hacked and the paparazzi seemingly lurk behind every bush, nobody knew. 

    Scott reportedly didn't even tell the guests he invited to his Bahamas home that they would be attending a wedding. 

    As the 2013 Masters champion said, per The Associated Press (via USA Today): "We just said we were having a party, so come on over. So then they had no idea that it was going to happen. So that was the fun little game for me and Marie to play for a while, planning it and stuff."

Loser: Mickelson's Mental Fortitude

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    After missing the cut at the Players Championship, Phil Mickelson told reporters he was mentally "soft."

    Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the state of his game from the five-time major winner. 

    Mickelson has made nine of 12 cuts on the year, but he missed the cut at the two most significant events of the season thus far: the Masters and the Players. 

    The veteran left-hander fired rounds of 75 and 70 and found himself outside the cut line this week. At issue this week? His putter: Mickelson lost 2.2 strokes to the field with his flatstick during the first round, in particular.

Winner: New Mindsets

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    Martin Kaymer has reportedly tried to be less analytical, committing to thinking less on the golf course. He's made seven of nine cuts on the PGA Tour this season, including three straight. The 2010 PGA Championship winner hadn't won since that triumph, prior to securing the 2014 Players. 

    Jim Furyk, too, has undergone some changes in his mental approach to the game lately. According to Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel, Furyk has adjusted his priorities and is having fun again on the golf course.

    Now 43, Furyk has been on tour for more than 20 years and has seen family come to occupy a larger place in his life. As the game became less enjoyable for him over the past few seasons, Furyk became increasingly unhappy. However, a shift in his approach and priorities has him enjoying the game again. 

    Obviously, the different approaches have led to different ones: namely better ones, this week.

Loser: Richard H. Lee at the 17th

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    This isn't another story about a player finding the water at Sawgrass' famous Island Green. Rather, Richard H. Lee managed to make a five at the 17th hole Sunday without even hitting his ball in the water. 

    Wondering how that's possible?

    Lee accomplished the impressive feat by nearly whiffing on two consecutive shots, one with a wedge and one with his putter, en route to a double bogey. 

    Have a look at the carnage here.

Winner: Stars' Sunday Play

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    Some notable names rocketed up the leaderboard during the final round of the Players Championship, earning valuable FedEx Cup ranking points and cash at the season's richest tournament. 

    • Jimmy Walker: 65 (-7)
    • K.J. Choi: 65 (-7)
    • Jim Furyk: 66 (-6)
    • Rory McIlroy: 66 (-6)
    • Russell Henley: 66 (-6)
    • Billy Horschel 67 (-5)

Winner: Big Swings in Scoring

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    During the four rounds of the Players, there were a range of scores turned in. From Martin Kaymer's 63 to Jeff Overton's 83, the tour's best penciled in a number of numbers, as it were.

    Adam Scott opened the tournament with a 77. He followed that up with a second-round 67: a whole 10 strokes better to make the cut. He finished at two under for the tournament.  

    Russell Henley was eight-under par after two rounds. After three rounds, he found himself at even thanks to a third-round 80. Sunday, however, Henley fought back with an impressive 66: 14 strokes better than his third-round tally.

    Rory McIlroy carded a second-round 74 that could have been a lot worse. The young Ulsterman did much better on Sunday, firing a final-round 66 to vault him inside the top 10.