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THE PLAYERS


(L-R) PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem and Tiger Woods pose with the winner’s trophy after the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship 2013 on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.


T www.pgatour.com


Tiger Woods closed his second PLAYERS victory with stellar play over the final three holes to complete a week of record galleries and play and intense competition. BY WARD CLAYTON


The final three holes on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course have been labeled “The Gauntlet” for their exacting test to finish the round. Water, nerves and bravado all converge on a par 5, a par 3 and a par 4 that possess as much peril as dry land. The final three met “The Closer,” a.k.a. Tiger Woods. “This is a very tricky golf course with


a lot of things that can go wrong coming down the stretch of the last three holes,” Woods said. “Anything can happen.” Woods is the master of carrying out


a plan and daring the other contenders to make a shot to win. The result was his second PLAYERS title (also 2001), making him one of three two-time victors (Fred Couples, Davis Love III and Steve Elkington are the others) that stand one notch below Jack Nicklaus’ three wins. The win was also the 78th of Woods’ PGA TOUR career, four short of Sam Snead’s career victory mark.


SHORT-GAME PROWESS As Woods


came to the climactic


conclusion, he had to gather himself. In control with a two-shot lead midway through the back nine, he swatted an amateurish pop-up hook drive


into


the water and took a double bogey on the par-4 14th hole. That dropped him back to 12-under par and into a tie with 49-year-old Jeff Maggert, Woods’ rival Sergio Garcia and Swedish rookie David Lingmerth, with Garcia-Lingmerth comprising the final pairing just behind Woods. The 15th hole seemed like another


Woods mishap as he short-sided his approach into rough on the par-4 hole, necessitating a tough up and down. True to his history of short-game prowess, he gouged the ball out of the rough and sank an 8-footer for par. First to take a hit on the concluding


holes was Maggert, who shot a 66 in round three to get into contention and was 3-under for the day standing on the 17th tee on Sunday. Two groups ahead of Woods, Maggert’s tee shot was poorly


struck and fell short, into the water. His double bogey was followed by a birdie on the final hole, but he was out of it after 17. He played the final three holes in 1-over par.


Woods gained momentum as he


rolled through the final holes. His drive on the par-5 16th found a nasty lie in the right rough “and I took a chance of going for it in two.” He muscled a 7-iron from 211 yards into the front bunker and made a nifty up and down for birdie to retake sole possession of the lead. Garcia followed with a two-putt


birdie on 16 to tie Woods at 13-under as Lingmerth countered a bogey on 14 with a birdie on 16 to reach 12-under.


THE FAMOUS 17TH The 17th would prove decisive. Woods’ tee shot “got hammered by the wind” and wound up on the front portion of the green with the hole cut in its traditional back-right location. Woods cozied the long putt to within tap-in range. Garcia


PGA TOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE 2013 67


THE PLAYERS 2013


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