PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The skies darkened first with rain clouds, then because of a setting sun. But Martin Kaymer overcame Mother Nature and a good, old-fashioned double bogey as he hung on to edge Jim Furyk and win The Players Championship on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass.
Kaymer missed the fairway and green at the 15th, then flubbed a pitch and a bunker shot before two-putting for double bogey. That narrowed his lead to a shot over Jim Furyk, who got to the clubhouse at 12 under by sinking a short par putt when play had resumed.
But Kaymer gradually bounced back. He was close enough in two to putt his way onto the green at the par-5 15th and then two-putt for par, after which he scrambled for pars despite missing the 17th and 18th greens. Wait, miss the 17th green? Yes, Kaymer’s ball hit the mound that separates the bunker from the green, then bounced on the green and spun back to a tiny strip of rough. But he got up and down thanks in large part to a putt of about 30 feet as the sun was beginning to disappear.
Here are 5 Things to know from the Stadium Course:
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1. ANOTHER LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Jordan Spieth had the lead during the final round of the Players Championship. It didn’t work out and Spieth shot a 2-over, 74 and fell from co-leader to a tie for fourth with Justin Rose while watching as Martin Kaymer played his way to victory.
Unlike other chances that Spieth has had to win his second PGA Tour event, the fact that he had a lead in this one will eat at him on his flight back to Dallas on Sunday night.
“I’m stinging right now,” Spieth said. “It’s not fun being that close and having opportunities and being in the lead on Sunday and not pulling it off. It’s something that I don’t feel like I’ve struggled with throughout my whole career, going back to junior days.”
For 58 holes, Spieth didn’t make a bogey. But it was the 63rd and 64th holes that Spieth wishes he could have back.
On the par five ninth, Spieth had a downhill lie for his third shot and didn’t get it close enough to get up and down. On the par-4 10th hole, Spieth hit his gap wedge exactly the way he wanted to; after the ball landed just a foot from the hole, it kicked left and Spieth made his third bogey of the day in six holes.
“I don’t understand how it pitched where it did,” Spieth said of his second shot at the 10th. “I have on my yardage book that it’s a no-no to go left in that swale to that pin. You just don’t hit it there. But I didn’t. I didn’t hit it there. “
When Spieth returned from a 90-minute rain delay, his bogey run started again with bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes and his chances of victory gone.
“Ultimately I don’t look at it as nerves or I don’t feel like the setting had anything to do with the way I played whatsoever,” Spieth said. “I just think that yesterday and today I got a little off with my swing. I was still close to being there. I could still hit some good shots, but I didn’t have the ball control the first two days. I didn’t have the putting the first two days.”
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2. SCHEDULE CHANGE: Steve Stricker has played in five events on the PGA Tour, but his T-12 finish this week at The Players is his best finish on the PGA Tour since a T-2 at the Tour Championship last September.
With difficult weather in Madison, Stricker has not been able to practice as much as he wanted.
But another part of the issue was an attempt to change to different irons. Part of his success this week was going back to his old irons, the 2010 Titleist AP2 irons that he had put on the shelf to try to move to the newer models.
“The other ones you’re just kind of sliding through there, and I wasn’t getting any help with that,” Stricker said of the new irons. “The the new AP2s, it’s perimeter weighted all the way across. It’s an anti‑hook club, and I like to turn the ball over, so it’s – that’s what I was fighting. I want to see that ball turn right to left, and I’m not seeing that.”
Stricker also has decided to make a slight modification to his schedule. Last year Stricker played only 13 events on the PGA Tour, skipping both Memorial and the Open Championship.
This year, Stricker is planning on playing Memorial and either the Open Championship or as a substitute Greenbrier.
But his schedule will not change beyond that.
“There’s a part of me that continually wonders if it’s the right thing, I guess,” Stricker said of a limited schedule. “I’m still playing good golf, but then when I get home and spend all the time at home, I know that’s the right decision. When I struggle in trying to come up with tournaments to go play in, then I know it’s the right thing. And just leaving home. So that reinforces what I’m doing.”
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3. SOON TO BE NO. 1: Adam Scott had a chance to earn the World No. 1 ranking. But a 1-over 73 meant Scott finished far out of the top 16, which was needed to jump to the top.
Instead Scott finished T-38 and will have to wait another week to jump to the top.
“I just didn’t play that great overall. Lucky to even make the weekend. But today I played from the rough. It’s just impossible to play this course out of position like that, so I just battled all day.
Scott might be making a change to his schedule for better preparation, possibly playing Colonial in two weeks and then Memorial.
“I think I need to play a little bit,” Scott said. “I potentially might play some more golf rather than go to the range, and just kind of free up on the golf course a bit.”
And once he gets to No. 1?
“I think it’s a nice feather in the cap probably,” Scott said. “I mean, if I was never World No. 1 when I’m this close, I’d be disappointed. But I’d also much rather win the U.S. Open and not be No. 1 at all this year. I mean, that’s what it comes down to.”
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4. GLENEAGLES BOUND? Jimmy Walker has won three times on PGA Tour this season, putting him in good position to represent the U.S. in the Ryder Cup for the first time at Gleneagles.
Something he has never done in his career.
With only one top 10 since his last win at Pebble Beach (T-8 at Masters), Walker has not had the best spring. But that all might change with a T-7 at the Players this week, the best finish of his career at TPC Sawgrass.
“I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year,” Walker said after a final-round, 7-under 65. “It feels like I’ve played a lot of golf already, but I know there is a lot more to come and we’re trying to pace ourselves and be ready for each and every week that we tee it up.”
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Martin Kaymer and Brian Davis had the least amount of bogeys this week at four, unfortunately for Davis he had four double-bogeys as well. … Geoff Ogilvy was moving in the right direction from T-19 in the first round to T-9 in the second round, but by the end of Sunday Ogilvy’s 78 dropped him to 69th place. … The 14th hole was the hardest hole for the week with a scoring average of 4.349 and the second was the easiest with a scoring average of 4.699. … Jim Furyk’s second place is his best finish at the Players and third top 10 at the TPC Sawgrass. … Jimmy Walker still holds the lead in the FedEx Cup. … The 17th hole had 29 balls in the water, tying the least amount in 2003 and 2010. … Kaymer grossed $1,800,000 for his win and Furyk earned $1,080,000.