PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tied with Tiger Woods for the lead at THE PLAYERS Championship, Sergio Garcia saw his chances at a second title disappear when he found the water with his first two swings at the iconic 17th hole.
Garcia had stepped on the tee at 17 tied with Woods at 13 under. But his first tee shot landed in the water. After deciding to play his third shot from the tee, Garcia's shot hit the bank short of the green and bounced back into the water.
Garcia finished with a quadruple-bogey 7 on the hole and dropped to 9 under as he headed toward the 18th hole.
Ironically, Garcia had won the 2008 PLAYERS Championship on the 17th hole in a playoff against Paul Goydos, who found the water.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods hit his tee shot on the 14th hole into the water that runs down the left side of the fairway. He took a drop, hit his third shot short of the green, chipped on and two-putted for a double bogey.
After conferring with THE PLAYERS Rules Committee, the PGA TOUR Communications Department issued the following:
"Without definitive evidence, the point where Woods' ball last crossed the lateral water hazard is determined through best judgement by Woods and his fellow competitor. If that point later proves to be a wrong point (through television or other means), the player is not penalized by Rule 26-1 given the fact that a competitor would risk incurring a penalty every time he makes an honest judgment as to the point where his ball last crosses a water-hazard margin and that judgment subsequently proves incorrect (Decision 26-1/17)."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Martin Laird is no stranger to final-round charges at THE PLAYERS Championship, and Sunday was no exception.
For the second straight year, Laird closed with a 67 to vault from a tie for 18th into contention. He trailed by six at the start of the day and was three strokes off the lead before he made his only bogey of the day at the 18th hole to finish at 10 under.
A year ago, Laird tied for second, two strokes behind Matt Kuchar. He said he thought the conditions were more difficult this year.
"The wind is a lot stronger and we got some trickier pins today on Sunday, and as you'd expect the greens are faster and firmer, definitely the speed," he said. "They may not be firmer than yesterday, but they're definitely faster. So you get on the wrong side of the hole, and it's tough to lag it down there as opposed to other days you can maybe have a run at it.
"It's just Sunday at THE PLAYERS. It's tough. That's one of the best rounds I've played all year and one of the best rounds I've played in a while. I think I probably played better today than I did last year when I shot 5 under in the final round. I think it was playing a little tougher today."
Laird also came from behind to win his third PGA TOUR event earlier this year. Trailing Billy Horschel by five strokes starting the final round of the valero Texas Open, Laird fired a course-record-tying 63 to beat Rory McIlroy by two.
So even though he faced a serious deficit, the 30-year-old knew he could make up some ground.
"I went in today actually confident, it sounds silly, but giving the leaders a push," Laird said. "... It kind of sounds weird to say when I was five back I was not confident of winning, but I knew I could get in contention. I had to get off to a good start, and did I that. Once I started that, I wanted to keep going, and as I said, I played really well."
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods stepped on the 14th tee with a two-shot lead, but he walked off the green in a four-way tie after suffering a double bogey.
On his downswing during his initial swing on the tee at 14, Woods stopped short because of an insect. After re-setting, his tee shot landed in the water to the left of the fairway. He faced an awkward second shot after his drop, with the ball above his feet and sitting in the sliver of rough between the bunker and water.
While taking his drop, David Lingmerth and Sergio Garcia were each making birdies at the 13th to move to 12 under.
The shot came up short of the green and Tiger chipped to 6 feet. But he missed the bogey putt, dropping from 14 under to 12 under.
It was Tiger's first missed putt all week between 4 and 8 feet.
That put him in a tie with Lingmerth, Garcia and Jeff Maggert.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Four birdies over his final six holes left Rory McIlroy feeling good about his game, but the ending was also bittersweet.
"I didn't play the par 5s particularly well," said McIlroy, who was a collective 4 under on them for the week but also 3 over on the ninth hole alone at TPC Sawgrass. "You play (No. 9) at level par and you're 10 under for the tournament and you're up there."
On the one hand, McIlroy made it to the weekend at THE PLAYERS Championship after missed cuts in his first three trips here. On the other, he struggled with his putter on the weekend and that took him out of contention.
McIlroy, who shot 2-under 70 on Sunday, missed eight putts from inside 10 feet over the last two days, including three in the final round.
He'd come into the week having made three adjustments to his putter, the most recent of which came this week with a little more loft to help him get the ball rolling on the Bermudagrass.
McIlroy says he'll stick with it, however, because the problem was his stroke more than the equipment. His putting coach, Dave Stockton, agrees. "He likes to forward press like I do," Stockton said. "I just felt like that would get him to roll the ball better, and he did for the first round. In terms of mechanics, we didn't change anything."
Said McIlroy: "I just didn't hole them. I struggled a little bit reading them, and I got a bit indecisive. Over the course of the week, if you keep seeing putts miss, it's hard to visualize them going in the hole when you're reading them, and that was sort of the problem this week."
Unlike past years, his strategy wasn't. McIlroy left the driver in the bag more often than in past trips here and the result led to his best week yet at TPC Sawgrass, where he finished at 7 under.
Not that he's grown any fonder of Pete Dye's signature course.
"I'm not sure I love any course," he said. "A golf course is a golf course, but there are still a few golf courses that I like more than this one."
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods, who is looking to win THE PLAYERS Championship for the first time since 2001 and just the second time in his career, has taken a two-stroke lead to the final nine holes.
Woods started the day tied for the lead but gained a bit of a cushion when he made three birdies and dropped just one shot to par on the front nine. Martin Laird, who has two holes remaining; Jeff Maggert, Sergio Garcia and David Lingmerth are his closest competitors at 11 under.
Laird turned in 32 and he's 6 under for the round. The 49-year-old Maggert shot 35 on the front nine and made birdie on the 10th hole. Lingmerth, who is a PGA TOUR rookie, and Garcia are playing together in the final group and have just turned in even par.
The only other player in double digits under par is Henrik Stenson, the 2009 PLAYERS champ, who battled back from a double bogey at the sixth hole with birdies at Nos. 9 and 10. He is 10 under but has played the back nine in 1 over for the week.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The back nine of the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is an eclectic mixture of holes that features four of the six easiest holes and three of the six most challenging.
The hardest is the 18th, which anchors the three finishing holes that have come to be known as "The Gauntlet." Interestingly, the easiest on the course is the par-5 16th that starts the closing stretch.
The many risk-reward opportunities over the final nine holes nearly always figure prominently in deciding who wins THE PLAYERS. Here's how the leaders who have yet to make the turn have performed on the back nine this week.
Tiger Woods, who leads by one, is 6 under over the final nine holes while David Lingmerth, who is second, is 8 under. Sergio Garcia, who is two shots off the pace, and Jeff Maggert, who is three back, are 4 under on that stretch.
Henrik Stenson, who is among the players tied at 9 under, has played the back nine in 1 over while Ryan Palmer and Casey Wittenberg, who are deadlocked five strokes off the pace, are 9 under and 4 under, respectively.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The jinx continues. No PLAYERS champion has successfully defended his title.
Matt Kuchar had the most recent opportunity but he closed with a 76 that included a 41 on the back nine and left him at even par for the tournament. He gave five strokes back on the final two holes -- hitting his tee shots at the 17th and 18th into the water on the way to a double bogey-triple bogey finish.
Kuchar was challenging at the midway point of his title defense, using a 66 to move to 7 under and just four shots off the lead. But rounds of 75-76 on the weekend sent him tumbling down the leaderboard.