Tiger Woods might not ever admit it, but it had to add just a little more delight to winning that he left Sergio Garcia swimming with the fishes en route to his second Players Championship Sunday at TPC Sawgrass.
Woods held together his round in the most heated moments, making birdie on No. 16 from the sand and parring what many times in this tournament has been the decision-closing holes — the island green No. 17 and the challenging finishing 18 with water running up the entire left side of the fairway.
At 13-under for the week, Woods took his fourth championship of the year and served further notice that he is the preeminent golfer in the world. David Lingmerth closed with a 72 and finished two shots behind along with Kevin Streelman and Jeff Maggert.
“Am I surprised?” Woods asked of his status atop the game. “No. I know a lot of people in this (interview) room thought I was done. But I’m not.”
Garcia, meanwhile, was done when he collapsed at the tournament’s most intense moment. After two days of spouting off about Woods — even saying to Sky Sports that “Woods isn’t the nicest guy out here”– Garcia folded like a rickety accordian, hitting two pitching wedge shots into the lake guarding the famous No. 1 island green.
His chance after the quadruple bogey 7 pushed him out of contention. He then went to No. 18 and hit that tee shot deep into the water, leading to a double bogey. It was a humiliating 15 minutes or so for Garcia, whose game did not match his mouth. He blamed Woods on Friday for a horrific shot on the par 5 second hole, saying Woods, his playing partner, went into his golf bag, causing a stir and distracting him just as he was about to hit.
Woods, who usually holds back on criticism of other players, said he was not surprised Garcia would complain “about something.” Since they were playing together after a weather suspension Saturday morning, it made the final round must-view watching.
It turned out that the four-day tournament came down to a few swings: Woods’ par save on No. 15 from about 10 feet, his birdie on No. 16 and Garcia’s pitching wedge coming up short and into the water. . . twice.
“That hole has been good to me for the most part,” Garcia said. “That’s the way it is. That’s the kind of hole it is. You’ve got to love it for what it is.”
Woods won his fourth event of the season and the 78th of his career Sunday when Garcia was unable to seize the moment yet again.
“This golf course has been a little bit tricky over the years, and I’m not the only one who’s struggled with it,” he said. “It’s a tough course. Fortunately I think this year I’ve been playing really well, and the last tournament I played in, I played really well.
“So coming here I was pretty confident in what I was doing. I was hitting the golf ball well.”
“I think it’s probably good for both of us,” Garcia said. “I mean, it’s as simple as that.”