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."