American Tiger Woods final round 70 saw his 275, 13-under-par hold up as he won his second PLAYERS Championship. He defeated Kevin Streelman, Jeff Maggert and rookie David Lingmerth by two shots. A group of three finished one more shot further back to finish T5.
Tiger Woods awoke Sunday morning to birdie No. 16 to close out his third round and find him tied for the lead heading into the final round later in the day. He never relinquished the lead as he made three birdies and one bogey to make the turn at 13-under. He added some drama as his tee shot on No. 14 found the water and his bogey putt was left wanting. He made an excellent up-and-down birdie on No. 16 and had a wonderful lag on No. 17 to avoid a bogey and the tournament was his.
In seven starts in 2013, Woods has now won four times. This leaves gamers in a lurch, especially in games where you can only use him in limited starts. Pick your poison. Use him now or wait for later. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. His win this week broke the "he only wins on courses where he's had previous domination" theory. Coming into this week, his history at this event suggested that you could hold him off for tournaments down the road where he's played better. Exiting this week, some of you are scratching your heads wondering "why didn't I take him again THIS week?" Here's the good news. He's playing great. His course management, putting, irons, wedges and even driver have been above average or better. This won't be the last time we're discussing a Woods victory in 2013.
The key to Woods' victory this week for me was only making five bogeys in 72 holes. Sure, he made a double on Sunday but we saw how that didn't affecting him at all. He never had to chase and when he gets to the front, look out! He was perfect in sand saves and was T3 in GIR. His putting numbers will be skewed because he hit so many greens. When he's on song with his driving and iron play, he's practically unbeatable.
With this victory, Woods collects $1,710,000 and 600 FedExCup points. His 78th career TOUR victory is just four behind Slammin' Sam Snead. He now joins Hal Sutton, Fred Couples and Steve Elkington as the only players to win at TPC Sawgrass twice in their career. Another feather in the cap!
Déjà vu All Over Again?
There have been 20 tournaments this season. The USA posted winners in the first 14 before Laird, Scott and GMAC rattled off three straight. The Stars and Stripes have now won three in a row thanks to youngsters Billy Horschel and Derek Ernst and Tiger Woods this week.
In 2013 11 of the 18 stroke-play events this season the 54-hole leader (or co-leader) have gone on to victory. This breaks up a run of six weeks in a row where the 54-hole leader(s) have not won. Woods entered the final round tied with Sergio Garcia and rookie David Lingmerth.
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FOUR times (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26) and Ernst (22). The young folks (30 and younger) now have eight victories; the 30-somethings have nine victories, and the "old folks" (40 and up) have their two wins. This week's "great hope" for the Old folks was 49-year-old Jeff Maggert whose water ball on No. 17 on Sunday ruined his chances but was still T2.
This is the third year in a row that the winner here has posted 13-under 275.
Kevin Streelman: For the third consecutive tournament Streelman finds himself in the top six on Sunday afternoon as his career-season continues. He was in the top 10 in driving and was second in GIR and that led to Sunday-low 67. In his last six starts he's won, been second, T3, T6, T21 and MC. That's hot golf. I endorse hot golf.
Jeff Maggert: Every week we have a couple of guys who pop up who have done absolutely NOTHING in 2013 and Maggert is our first one on the list this week. This is his first top five since finishing fifth at last year's Humana. It's his second top 10 in 40 starts so I'm not rushing to add him to my roster next week. His best finish in 2013 was T46 at Pebble Beach before this week.
David Lingmerth: The rookie who finished P2 to Brian Gay at Humana (notice a trend in the last two golfers? Weird.) fired in the 60s his first three rounds here to show that he would be a contender on Sunday. He didn't burn out or fade on Sunday but his eight bogeys on the weekend didn't separate him from the field. He's having an odd season. He's been second twice but had missed eight of 12 cuts entering this week. His other finishes were T31 (Sony), T51 (Tampa) and T50 (API). I hope you got lucky. This was the best rookie finish here since Camilo Villegas (T3) back in the mid 2000's.
Martin Laird: He backed up his T2 in 2012 with T5 this year as he proved that current form is a deciding factor when addressing players this week. Don't forget that he's now fired 67-67 on the last two Sundays at TPC Sawgrass. Also, Laird overcame back-to-back doubles on Saturday (Nos. 8 & 9) to still hit the top five! Wow! He's obviously very comfortable playing here! In 12 events in 2013, he's missed the cut in six of them. His victory at Valero and T5 this week joins a T34, T47, T60 and T70. He's all-or-nothing except at Sawgrass!
Henrik Stenson: The 2009 champion adds his fourth top 10 in eight events at TPC Sawgrass. He's now made six cuts in eight events and his WORST finish is T23. He needs to be on your list next year, period. In his last four events he's finished T2 (Shell), T18 (Masters), MC (Wells Fargo) and T5 this week. The leading ball-striker on TOUR came good on a ball-strikers course.
Ryan Palmer: The second person on this list this week that was, well, shocking to say the least. In seven starts at TPC Sawgrass Palmer has missed six cuts and his only finish was T75. His T5 this week was bittersweet as he learned late in the week that a childhood friend of his was killed in a car accident. He showed fantastic guts to play through that and lead the field in putts per GIR. His GIR, T69, was what held him back this week. He was also T6 at Humana this year, one of his three top 10s. What's with the Humana/Sawgrass correlation?
Ben Crane: He hits the top 10 for the second time in four starts and the main reason, not surprisingly, was his putter. He finished the week fourth in strokes gained-putting and was on fire early on Sunday, going out in 31 before stumbling to 38 on the back nine. Crane's performance here, T8, should not have surprised you "horse-for-course" players as he hits the top 10 for the FOURTH time in SIX years. Whoa!
Rory McIlroy: He made the cut for the first time in four tries, played completely average, putted awfully and finished T8. That's what great players do. They find a way to grind out a result even when they are not firing. After a bogey-free Thursday, he made three bogeys a round each of the final three rounds. The problem haunting him again was his putting as he missed multiple putts inside of 10 feet. He'll get that fixed. He's now hit the top 10 in four of his eight events this year. That's what you expect.
Brandt Snedeker: In 10 events this year, Sneds has now hit the top 10 six times. His T59 after his Masters was obviously a blip on the radar as his T8 this week has shown. He led the field in birdies with 21 but also ran into 14 bogeys. This broke up a streak of four events at Sawgrass where he was cut. If he stays healthy, which was not the case last summer, he should be on your short-list each week he enters.
Marc Leishman: After firing 81-80 here two years ago Leishman found his first top 10 (T8) at Sawgrass in four start and has now made the cut for the second straight year. After missing consecutive cuts at API and Shell, the Aussie has seriously bounced back with T4 at Augusta, T9 at Harbour Town and now T8 this week. En fuego!
Lee Westwood: One of the best ball-strikers on TOUR will be remembered by gamers this week for the ball he DID NOT strike Saturday as he whiffed a shot up against a tree. It happens, right? Westwood made two doubles in his first four holes on Saturday after opening the first 36 holes bogey free and that was that. His rally on Sunday was squashed with bogeys on Nos. 14 and 17 but he still found the top 10 (T8) for the fourth time in 11 career starts at Sawgrass. Ho hum, just four straight top 10s on TOUR for the Englishman in 2013. I'd say moving the family over to Florida has worked well.
Casey Wittenberg: The 2012 Web.com money winner hits the top 10 (T8) for the first time in 14 2013 starts. His best finish before this week was T15 back in January at Torrey Pines. Major respect to another guy finishing in the top 10 in his first tournament at Sawgrass. So much for first-timers struggling around here this week!
Sergio Garcia: If this was a 70-hole tournament, well…Garcia finished quad-double to drop from T2 to T8. Gamers, remember, if you would have known that Garcia would have finished T8 before the week started you would have not been disappointed. Keep this in perspective. He's now hit the top 25 in seven of eight events in 2013 and that includes four top 10s. Yes, it stings, but it's not completely without precedence either.
"Hey, what ever happened to…"
I take a look back at what happened to the chalk
Luke Donald: Another solid back-door top 20 (T19) as his 69 on Sunday moved him up 23 spots. His short game enabled him to finish T2 in pars and only see him card six bogeys (one double) on the week. That's seven in a row here and none worse than T37. I always expect more from elite players.
Jim Furyk: As Rob Bolton tweeted earlier in the week; Furyk had a TON of birdie chances but made 27 pars in 36 holes to miss the cut. This proves once again that course history cannot be the only factor used in determining your line up for THE PLAYERS.
Justin Rose: Another premium ball-striker who didn't fire this week, Rose now has failed to hit the top 10 in 10 events here. His best finish is T22. Some guys just don't like this lay out. After 10 events, I'm convinced Rose is one of them.
Graeme McDowell: He hit tons of fairways and plenty of greens but it was his putter which let him down this week at Sawgrass. His best finish in six events here is only T26 and remains so after this week.
Phil Mickelson: Another week, another completely different set of circumstances. Wash, rinse, repeat. It's perfectly normal.
Matt Kuchar: He was seven-under and only four shots back heading into the weekend before 75-76 sank him to T48. Three doubles and seven bogeys will do that. No champion has repeated at Sawgrass.
Adam Scott: The Masters champ battled and hit it great to finish T19. He was six-under and five back on Saturday before a double on 17 took the wind out of his sails. He was T8 in driving accuracy and T5 GIR.
Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a live chat Wednesday at NOON ET at Rotoworld.com. We will be breaking down the field at HP Byron Nelson Championship and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don't forget that you can follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/GlassWGCL) on Twitter!