Tiger Woods held his nerve on the final day of the Players Championship to claim victory in golf’s ‘fifth major’ at TPC Sawgrass.
Woods carded a round of 70 to finish on 13-under par, two shots ahead of David Lingmerth, Kevin Streelman and Jeff Maggert.
The 14-time major winner had seemed set for a mouth-watering play-off with Sergio Garcia, who criticised Woods’ conduct when they played together on Saturday, but the 2008 champion imploded by finding the water twice off the 17th tee.
Woods had endured a wobbly moment himself when he double-bogeyed the 14th but he responded to get back in the driving seat with a birdie at the 16th following a superb bunker shot.
Garcia, who like Woods had won the tournament once before, trailed by a single shot at that point but birdied the 16th as well to draw level at the top of the leaderboard.
But no sooner had he raised hopes of a showdown with his bitter rival, Garcia threw his chances away in dramatic style by taking a double dip in the water at 17 before also splashing down on the final hole for good measure.
Maggert and Lingmerth had threatened to upset the odds at different points during the day but both fell back after dropping shots in the closing stages, leaving the path clear for Woods.
“To (win) on a course this demanding against arguably the best field which is assembled throughout the year is always difficult,” Woods said at the trophy presentation.
“For some reason today I hit it really well – except for that tee shot at 14 – other than that I really played well today.”
Scotland’s Martin Laird shot the joint-lowest round of the day to climb into a tie for fifth place, only a bogey at the last preventing him from joining the trio on 11 under.
Rory McIlroy finished three shots further back in a seven-way tie for eighth place which also included Lee Westwood and the free-falling Garcia.
The Spaniard would have loved nothing more than beating Woods after their third round spat.
Instead, the 2008 winner at Sawgrass handed his long-time rival the crown when he found the water trap on the signature island hole twice. The pin was in a difficult position in the right corner, only a few yards from the water’s edge, and rather than attempt a safe shot that would leave him with a tricky birdie putt, Garcia went for broke.
“As the ball was in the air I was thinking, please be right, because it was straight at it. It was probably three feet left of the hole,” Garcia said after his final round 76.