By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- So often Tiger Woods forces his opponents into mistakes.
Sunday at THE PLAYERS Championship wasn’t much different, whether it was Sergio Garcia hitting into the water on the 17th hole, or David Lingmerth needing birdie on the 18th and coming away with a bogey.
“I shot even par, which is not a bad score out there, but I feel like I could have done a lot better,” Lingmerth said. “That's why that's leaving a little sour taste right now. I felt like I left a lot of shots out there.”
A three-putt from 45 feet on No. 8, another one from 30 feet on No. 10, specifically. They put Lingmerth into rally mode, and catching Woods has proved to be near impossible for the last 15-plus years. He’s the Mariano Rivera of golf, having converted 53 of 57 opportunities when he has at least a share of the lead after 54 holes.
Three birdies on the back nine gave the Little Swede That Could a chance, though, as he pulled to within one of Woods with two holes to play.
After watching Sergio Garcia dump two shots into the water at the par-3 17th hole, Lingmerth stiffed his tee shot to the traditional front right pin position to inside 8 feet.
Only the 25-year-old rookie making just his 13th career start on the PGA TOUR missed the putt, jamming it through the break.
“I had a good look at it, and I thought it was a right edge putt,” Lingmerth said. “I just pushed it a hair, and left it hanging a little high.”
That meant Lingmerth needed to do what only five players were able to do all day: Make birdie on the 18th.
With water left, Lingmerth left his tee shot out to the right, the ball landing in the rough and leaving him a tough angle to the front left pin.
He again missed right, leaving himself 61 feet from the hole.
Those are things trying to catch Woods can do.
Lingmerth made sure to get his putt to the hole, but it ran 12 feet past. Game over.
“If you would have asked me if I would have taken a 72 before the final round I probably would have tried to do better instead of taking that,” he said. “I really wasn't trying to chase (Tiger) too much. I was trying to do my own thing and I ended up having a chance there towards the end. I was just trying to shoot a good score.”
The good news for Lingmerth is that while his score wasn’t good enough to win, it was good enough to secure his job for next year.
By finishing second, he earned more than $700,000, which combined with the more than $550,000 he’d already banked this season, locks up his card for 2013-14.
“They’re are all positives,” Lingmerth said. “I've never been in that position before. A lot of the big names were up on the leaderboard, so it was fun to contend with those guys, and I felt comfortable out there all day and all week. If I get a chance again, I hope I can take it to another level.”