Golf’s world No.1 Tiger Woods has claimed his fourth win of the year with victory in The Players Championship.
Woods collected his 78th US PGA tour title despite being pushed down the stretch by Spain’s Sergio Garcia and rookie Swede David Lingmerth.
Woods shot a two-under-par 70 to finish at 13-under, two clear of Lingmerth (72), who had a tough putt to force a playoff on the last hole but three-putted to join Kevin Streelman (67) and Jeff Maggert (70) in a tie for second.
Garcia came to the iconic island green par three 17th hole tied for the lead with Woods but capitulated with two tee balls in the water.
The Spaniard continued to meltdown, backing up his quadruple bogey with another ball in the water on the last for a double bogey and to finish tied eighth.
After winning at Torrey Pines, Doral and Bay Hill already this year, Woods is rapidly closing in on Sam Snead’s all-time US Tour win record of 82.
He pocketed $US1.71 million, the biggest first place tournament prize in golf as he added to his 2001 Players Championship triumph.
Marc Leishman knocked on the door of the lead early in his round but ended up posting a 72 to finish as leading Australian at seven-under in the tie for eighth.
Masters champion Adam Scott posted a respectable 71 to be tied 19th at five-under in his first hitout since his Augusta National triumph.
“I actually played a lot better than really my score showed,” Scott said.
“It was one of those tough weeks on the greens where I hit a lot of good putts and they didn’t go in and a couple of my good shots didn’t turn out so good.”
Starting in a three-way tie for the lead, Woods birdied the second and fourth holes to create some separation, bogeyed the sixth to give the field a sniff, but knocked in a birdie on the seventh and 12th holes to once again take control.
Seemingly waltzing to victory, the 14-time major winner stumbled by pulling his tee shot on the 14th into the water and taking a double bogey to drop back into a tie for the lead.
He birdied the 16th and parred home as those behind couldn’t match him.
Leishman opened his round with a huge drive and neat wedge to 10 feet, making the birdie to move within three of the leaders.
He was even closer with a birdie on the par five second and followed it up with an impressive 12-foot par save on the third.
When he knocked it stiff on the fourth and made another birdie the Victorian was just one shot off top spot.
But just as he looked set to push Woods for a win he found water off the tee on the fifth and was stung by a double bogey.
The pain continued on the next hole when he was once again wayward off the tee, went long on approach and then left two chips short to card a bogey.
“I just hit a bad shot, blocked it, it’s just one of those tee shots that doesn’t sit well with me,” Leishman said.
“It was just a really bad shot and I made six.
“But I got back on track and didn’t feel out of it.
“It was a satisfying week. Another top 10 and I didn’t lose my head.”
Scott was joined by Jason Day who climbed up a few spots with a nice 68 to finish strong heading to this week’s Byron Nelson Championship, the event of his lone US PGA tour win.
Tiger Woods is having an amazing year so far other than the Masters. Fate wasn’t on hisside in that event. I think we can expect big things from Tiger this year in the three remaining majors. I think it’s great for the game to see him “roaring” back.
Sergio Garcia didn’t distinguish himself in this event being so outspoken about Tiger Woods. Many felt he was a “cry baby” and I’m sure that included Woods.