PONTE VEDRA BEACH - Martin Kaymer survived a late double-bogey to win the US PGA Tour's prestigious Players Championship on Sunday by one stroke over Jim Furyk. Kaymer notched his first title worldwide since he won the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa on December 2, 2012, coming up with three clutch pars to close out a one-under par 71 for a 13-under total of 275.
"It's always difficult to come back after a little break, but obviously you see the leaderboard, you see where you are, but I played really, really well the first 14 holes," Kaymer stated. "I made a couple wrong decisions (after the weather delay). On 16, I should have chipped it. It was not the right decision, but that was a big putt on 17." The victory in the $10 million tournament was just the second of Kaymer's career on the US PGA Tour -- to go with his major triumph at the 2010 PGA Championship.
The former world number one from Germany had a three-shot lead and was lining up a putt at the 14th when players were called off the course because of lightning in the area. When play resumed, with officials hoping to get the tournament finished before darkness fell, Kaymer promptly found himself in trouble with a double-bogey six at the 15th. Furyk, meanwhile, came back from the break to wrap up a six-under 66 for a 12-under total of 276.
With his lead down to one-shot lead, Kaymer was unable to birdie the par-five 16th, but he kept his nose in front with a 28-foot, breaking putt to save par at the par-three 17th and parred 18 in near darkness for the win. Sergio Garcia, the 2008 champion, closed with a 2-under 70 to grab third place on 11-under-par 277 on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Reigning US Open champion Justin Rose of England carded a three-under 69 to gain a share of fourth place at 10-under. He was tied with rising US star Jordan Spieth, who went into the final round tied with Kaymer for the lead by posted a two-over 74 in the final round to join Rose on 278.
"I feel like I'm hitting decent putts and they're not going," Spieth said. "All that I can attest that too is maybe not focusing as much on making it and focusing more on where I'm at. So that's something I'll have to sit back and look at. I just didn't have the magic with the short game." Before the round was over one thing was already decided -- Tiger Woods will still be world number one next week. Woods was unable to defend his title at TPC Sawgrass as he continues to recover from surgery to ease a pinched nerve.
In his absence, Australia's world number two Adam Scott, number three Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Masters champion Bubba Watson and fellow American Matt Kuchar all had a mathematical chance of toppling Woods, but none got that job done. Scott had the best chance, needing a top-16 finish, but he fell well short and his final-round 73 saw him tied for 38th when he completed his round. However, Scott is still projected to move to number one in the coming weeks.
"It's weird," Scott said. "You want to do it playing well and getting good results, but it's just the way our system is. But it's also not the biggest focus for me at the moment. I'm trying to play some good golf and get myself ready to play the next big event."