Monday, 13 May 2013
Tiger Woods  (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods claimed his 78th US PGA Tour title as Sergio Garcia's hopes of a second Players Championship fell victim to the infamous 17th hole at Sawgrass.

Woods and Garcia found themselves tied for the lead with two holes to play, but after Woods made a safe par on the 17th, Garcia dumped two balls into the water short of the island green to end his hopes with a quadruple-bogey seven.

Playing partner David Lingmerth somehow ignored all the drama to hit his own tee shot to seven feet, but the Swedish rookie missed the birdie putt that would have taken him into a share of the lead and also bogeyed the last trying to force a play-off.

That meant Woods' closing 70 and 13 under par total of 275 was good enough for a two shot win over Lingmerth, Jeff Maggert and Kevin Streelman, the 37 year old now just four wins away from equalling the record 82 US PGA Tour victories of Sam Snead.

It was also his fourth win in his last five events - he was fourth in the Masters Tournament last month - and a second Players Championship title 12 years after his first.

Garcia found more water on the 18th for a double-bogey six and a closing 76 to finish six shots behind.

Woods went into the final round tied for the lead with Garcia and Lingmerth and despite only one of his previous 77 professional victories having come at Sawgrass, he reached the turn with a two shot lead.

Making his 300th career start on the US PGA Tour - he also won on his 100th and 200th starts - Woods birdied the second and fourth to move into the outright lead and, after a bogey on the sixth when his approach hit a tree short of the green, bounced back with a birdie from 15 feet on the seventh.

After the 49 year old Maggert closed to within a shot, Woods restored his two shot lead with a birdie on the 12th and looked in cruise control, only to hook his tee shot on the 14th into the water and run up a double-bogey six.

Birdies from Lingmerth and Garcia on the 13th while this was happening meant there was suddenly a four-way tie for the lead, but Maggert showed what was in store for Garcia when his hopes came to a watery end on the 17th.

Woods edged in front with a birdie on the 16th that was matched by Garcia in the group behind, only for hopes of a thrilling finish to be dashed on the next.

"It was tough," Woods said. "I was in control of the tournament and got to the 14th tee and just absolutely hit the worst shot I could possibly hit and then made double there.

"I stayed really patient, I kept telling myself that's the only bad swing I've made all day and there's no reason why I can't still win the tournament.

"The conditions got a little tricky, I left myself a lot of double-breaking putts and had a hard time reading them. (But) I figured I am not the only one having this kind of difficulty."

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