By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods was the only one standing at the end and holding his second PLAYERS Championship trophy.
Jack Nicklaus used to make a comparison between major championships and amusement rides. He said he would envision the other players trying to hold on to a carnival carousel. Nicklaus would just hold on tight while other players fell off until he was the only one left. That's what happened on the back nine at TPC Sawgrass. There was a four-way tie for the lead with four holes remaining, and one by one the contenders fell. Jeff Maggert hit into the water on the 17th. David Lingmerth bogeyed the 14th and missed his chances for birdie at both 17 and 18. Sergio held on until splashing two balls at the 17th. It became a battle of attrition. Tiger Woods had his own troubles with a double at the 14th. He did not charge to victory but simply let the others fall off the ride.
Key shot: Golf fans may not remember Tiger Woods' par on the 15th hole but it was a key shot. From 31 feet away, he got up and down from a grass bunker, making an eight-foot putt. Woods was coming off a double bogey on the 14th and another mistake would have been huge. His par save at the 15th hole was a tournament saver.
Draw: Tiger Woods still struggles to hit a draw with his driver. He has trouble with the quick miss to the left and relies on a fairway metal when he needs to work the ball right to left. He hit fairway metal on the 14th and a pop-up hook went into the water. His drive on the 18th was equally intimidating but he drilled that one into the middle of the fairway. There is still work to do on the range for Woods but he ended the week ranked in the top 20 of fairways hit and third in greens in regulation.
Dialed in: Players arrived just as dawn broke at TPC Sawgrass to complete the third round and were faced with tremendously difficult shots. David Lingmerth began with a drive on the 18th. Ryan Palmer with the tee shot on the 17th. There was a flagstick exactly 122 yards away on the range, the same distance at the 17th. Palmer hit several wedges, dialed in his distance and made birdie.
Big bogey: David Lingmerth should take nothing but positives out of this week. The PGA TOUR rookie shared second place and had a chance to win. However, his bogey on the final hole was very profitable for both Jeff Maggert and Kevin Streelman. Instead of sharing third place, they moved into a second place tie. That was a huge bump in money and FedExCup points. Kevin Streelman jumped into third place in the standings and Maggert is 73rd. Lingmerth's bogey cost him some money but it's the middle of May and he has already won enough money to be exempt next season, plus he's 31st in FedExCup points. That is great for a PGA TOUR rookie.
Splash: It's hard to find a positive for Sergio Garcia. His pitching wedge into the 17th was never close to finding the green. He followed up with another ball into the water and found the lake on the 18th hole as well. The last two mistakes mean little and can be attributed to a lack of concentration following a huge disappointment. Garcia lost his chance to win the tournament after hitting his first shot into the water at 17 and you have to wonder if nerves played a role in the bad shot. Garcia told everyone he did not “have what it takes” to win a major after a disappointing day at the Masters last year. Sunday's final round result will have people questioning him again. To his credit he smiled following the round and did interviews. Sergio attributed his tee ball at the 17th to over-confidence and adrenaline.
Hole locations: There were eight cups cut four paces or fewer from the edge of greens on the front nine. Only the eighth hole was cut in the center of the green. There was also a new final-round hole location on the 18th. Six paces from the front of the green and three yards from the left side. The new location was hoped to create excitement bringing both birdie and water into play. It delivered.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.