Date: May 12, 2008

Garcia wins at Sawgrass

Sergio Garcia needed just one extra hole to secure golf&aposs &aposfifth major&apos and give his confidence a boost in the absence of Tiger Woods. The Spaniard became just the second European to win the Players Championship when he beat American Paul Goydos in sudden death at the famous Sawgrass TPC layout. Twenty-one years after Scot Sandy Lyle won in the event&aposs only other play-off, Garcia won it at the very same hole, the famous par-three 17th, with its island green. After Goydos found the water with his tee shot, the door was open for Garcia. The Spaniard was not about to let it shut, punching a wedge to the middle of the green, and watching in delight as his ball fed down to the hole, nestling only four feet away. After Goydos, from the drop zone, missed his unlikely par attempt, Garcia, 28, could celebrate the end of a drought of nearly three years, tapping in for a par and a seventh US PGA tour title. “A lot of hard work is starting to pay off,” Garcia said, before joking: “I want to thank Tiger (Woods) for not being here. That always makes it a little bit easier.” Garcia shot a closing 71, Goydos 74, and they finished at five-under 283, one stroke ahead of American Jeff Quinney (70), who bogeyed the last to miss the play-off after his approach shot found the back bunker. Veteran Stuart Appleby was the best of the Australian charge but a disappointing 76 on the final day saw him drop from seventh to a share of 15th place. Three bogeys and a double bogey on the front nine cost him any faint chance of joining compatriots Steve Elkington, Greg Norman and Adam Scott as winners of the prestigious event. Elkington, a two-time winner at Sawgrass, finished even in his final round for a 294 total, level with fellow Australians Nick O&aposHern (72) and Aaron Baddeley (72). Robert Allenby (73) was tied for 53rd and Scott endured a horror Sunday with an 80 relegating him from tied for 20th to a piece of 54th. But it was Garcia&aposs day, and only just, after he made a clutch par at the final regulation hole to stay alive. The par-four 18th was the toughest hole on the course on an extremely windy day, and Garcia found a poor lie when his tee shot drifted into the right rough. He advanced his second shot to within 50 yards of the pin, and then pitched to seven feet. It was a critically important putt and, given his problems on the greens over the past few years, there were few who would have put any money on his making it. But make it he did, his stroke holding up under pressure. With Garcia watching from the scoring room, Goydos missed his chance to win it in regulation, his putt drifting to the right. Fourth Round Scores from the Players Championship, Ponte Vedra Beach FL -6: Sergio Garcia 66, 73, 73, 71, Paul Goydos 68, 71, 70 -4: Jeff Quinney 71, 73, 70, 70 -1: Briny Baird 71, 71, 73, 72 E: Stephen Ames 74, 68, 74, 72 1: Brett Quigley 70, 76, 72, 71, Ernie Els 72, 71, 74, 72, Ben Crane 70, 72, 75, 72, Tom Lehman 73, 73, 69, 74 2: Chad Campbell 73, 72, 77, 68, Dean Wilson 74, 72, 75, 69, Henrik Stenson 73, 71, 75, 71, J.B. Holmes 72, 72, 71, 75, Greg Kraft 75, 72, 68, 75 3: Kevin Stadler 70, 72, 78, 71, Fred Couples 70, 72, 77, 72, Stuart Appleby (Australia) 72, 72, 71, 76, Tim Petrovic 73, 73, 69, 76, Bernard Langer 72, 67, 75, 77, Kenny Perry 68, 70, 72, 81 Also: 3: Stuart Appleby (Australia) 72, 72, 71, 76 6: Steve Elkington (Australia) 69, 76, 77, 72, Nick O Hern (Australia) 73, 74, 75, 72, Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 71, 74, 77, 72 7: Robert Allenby (Australia) 74, 71, 77, 73 9: Adam Scott (Australia) 75, 71, 71, 80