Tiger Woods faltered, recovered and then finished strong to cap a dramatic victory at The Players Championship.
Woods appeared to be cruising toward his second career win at The Players when he arrived at the 14th hole at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday. Then everything went sideways -- and got wet. Alone atop the leaderboard as he stepped to the tee at 14, Woods hooked the ball left and into the water. By the time he completed his double bogey on the par-4 14th hole, Woods had squandered his two-stroke lead and was mired in a four-way tie at 12-under with Sergio Garcia, David Lingmerth and Jeff Maggert.
"It was tough. I was in control of the tournament and got to 14 tee and just hit the worst shot I could possibly hit. And then, you know, made double bogey there but just stayed really patient," Woods told Steve Sands of Golf Channel after the win. "I kept telling myself, 'That's the only bad swing I've made all day and there's no reason why I can't still win this golf tournament.'"
Woods regained the lead with a birdie on 16 and then benefited from a meltdown by Garcia en route to his fourth PGA Tour win of the 2013 campaign and 78th career PGA Tour win. Woods finished his four rounds at 13-under par. His victory was sealed when Lingmerth failed to birdie the 18th hole, which would have forced a playoff.
Tiger Woods is your 2013 #THEPLAYERS Champion, 13-under 275. "How 'bout that, huh?" he exclaims in the scoring area.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 12, 2013
CLICK HERE for hole-by-hole analysis of Woods' final round.
Woods entered the final round of the tournament in a three-way tie atop the leaderboard with Garcia and Lingmerth. According to Golfweek, this was the first time that he led or co-led at The Players after 54 holes.
CLICK HERE for complete leaderboard at The Players
Garcia was even with Woods at 13-under when he teed off at 17, the signature hole at Sawgrass with its famous island green. Garcia, who had been engaged in a war of words with Woods throughout the weekend, splashed his first two shots off the tee. After finishing off his quadruple-bogey 7 on 17, Garcia would also put his tee shot on 18 into the water. The leader through two rounds and co-leader through 54 holes, Garcia finished tied for eighth place at 7-under for the week. Lingmerth, Maggert and Streelman finished tied for second place at 11-under.
WATCH: Garcia Goes Splash On 17
Woods' win at Sawgrass came in his 300th career PGA Tour start and marks the fastest that he has reached four wins in a calendar, according to Doug Ferguson of The Associated Press. After he wrapped up the triumph, moving him within four victories of Sam Snead's PGA record (82), Woods made a comment that should strike at least as much fear into the field as that 17th green at Sawgrass.
"I'm getting better," Woods told Sands with a grin.