Date: May 14, 2007

Scott finishes in style

Phil Mickelson completed a near-flawless final round to secure an emphatic two-stroke victory at the Players Championship, while Adam Scott fired a magnificent final round of 67 to join compatriot Peter Lonard as the leading Australian in equal sixth place. Third-round leader Sean O&aposHair was Mickelson&aposs only challenger, but his hopes drowned at the infamous par-three 17th, where he put two balls into the water surrounding the island green. O&aposHair bogeyed the last to shoot 76 and fall all the way to 11th, as Sergio Garcia claimed second after a sizzling six-under 66, with fellow Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal (67) and American Stewart Cink (66) another shot back in a tie for third. Two shots further adrift were fellow Australians Mathew Goggin and Steve Elkington, while Stuart Appleby and Nathan Green finished in a tie for 16th place at three-under-par. In just Mickelson&aposs third tournament since sacking long-time instructor Rick Smith to work solely with Butch Harmon, the Californian hardly hit a bad shot in a three-under-par 69 in perfect conditions at the Sawgrass TPC. He took the lead for good at the 10th hole and was never seriously troubled down the stretch, a meaningless bogey at the final hole the only blemish on his card as he finished at 11-under 277. Mickelson collected 1,620,000 US dollars for his first victory at this event, his 31st on the US Tour, and he improved to second on the world rankings behind Tiger Woods. O&aposHair was disappointed with the finish to his round, admitting his inexperience over the final few holes cost him. “I&aposm not playing for second. I was in a good spot to win and unfortunately I got kicked in the teeth,” O&aposHair said. “I had an opportunity and it didn&apost happen. I&aposm not going to let this bother me.” Garcia was delighted with his finish, which included four successive birdies from the 14th. “I got really hot,” he said after hitting all but one green in regulation. “I barely missed a fairway, barely missed a green the last two days. I&aposm very pleased with that. I felt comfortable all week with my swing.” However, he could only rue the double bogey he made to end the third round, wondering what might have been. Luke Donald, the only British player within striking distance at the start of the day, never got his charge off the launch pad, shooting 74 to finish equal 16th at three-under 285. Ian Poulter (69) was two shots further back, with Irishman Padraig Harrington (70) equal 52nd on two-over 290. Mickelson was in fine form early, splitting the fairway with three of his first four drives. He birdied the first two holes and added further birdies at the par-four seventh and par-five 11th to put a little distance between himself and O&aposHair. Meanwhile, Woods finally produced the sort of form that had eluded him all week, shooting a five-under 67. It was too little, too late to have any real meaning. But, to listen to Woods, his long game was in pretty good shape all week, not that he could say the same about his putting. “I knew I could shoot a round in the 60s if I&aposd just make a few putts, and today I did,” he said after finishing equal 37th, 11 strokes off the pace. He was in a considerably better mood than after his third round, when he did not stop to talk to the media, or anyone else for that matter. “I was just tired of hitting good putts and having them all lip out, because I didn&apost feel like I was playing that poorly,” he continued. “I had eight lip-outs yesterday. I was tired of it. Good putts weren&apost going in. I was really frustrated.” Woods decided to take less time reading the putts during the final round, and it seemed to pay off as he made as he made five birdies and an eagle. He added: “Because the greens are new, I&aposm not used to reading them yet. Today, I just said &aposgo with your first instinct and hit it and be aggressive&apos. “I went for a more aggressive approach and I started making putts.” Woods claimed his long game was better this week than at last week&aposs Wachovia Championship, which he won. He also revealed his left knee, on which he had surgery more than four years ago, was bothering him, both while walking and during his swing. Australians Mathew Goggin and Steve Elkington finished at four-under-par, while Stuart Appleby and Nathan Green finished in a tie for 16th place at three-under-par. Geoff Ogilvy (76) and Aaron Baddeley (77) had disappointing final rounds to finish at even par in equal 37th position, one ahead of compatriot Rod Pampling who carded a 68, while John Senden finished at two-over-par in a tie for 52nd place. Final results from the Players Championship: (par 72) -11: Phil Mickelson 67 72 69 69 -9: Sergio Garcia 73 73 67 66 -8: Stewart Cink 74 69 71 66, Jose Maria Olazabal 78 66 69 67 -7: Jose Coceres 73 70 68 70 -6: Robert Karlsson 77 68 71 66, Adam Scott (Australia)74 71 70 67, J.P. Hayes 71 73 68 70, Jeff Quinney 71 74 64 73, Peter Lonard (Australia) 69 72 68 73 -5: Sean O&aposHair 72 69 66 76 -4: Steve Elkington (Australia) 73 71 70 70, Mathew Goggin (Australia) 72 71 71 70, Brandt Snedeker 72 74 68 70, Chris DiMarco 68 74 69 73 -3: J.B. Holmes 76 72 69 68, Jonathan Byrd 74 71 71 69, Stuart Appleby (Australia) 74 71 71 69, Zach Johnson 73 73 70 69, Nathan Green (Australia) 71 69 74 71, Ted Purdy 74 73 67 71, Luke Donald 74 72 65 74 Also E: Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 74 71 67 76, Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 72 72 67 77 +1: Rod Pampling (Australia) 70 71 80 68 +2: John Senden (Australia) 73 74 71 72