Tiger Woods at the Players Championship. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Steve DiMeglio, USA TODAY Sports
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - Digging deep after dunking his tee shot into the water on the 14th hole and squandering a two-shot lead in the process, Tiger Woods collected his thoughts and controlled his emotions down the stretch to win The Players Championship on Sunday.
Woods was in control of the tournament before hooking his tee shot into a water hazard on 14 and making double bogey, allowing many players, including Sergio Garcia, back into the tournament.
Woods still had a share of the lead after his water miscue and took the outright lead with a birdie on the par-5 16th. Garcia, playing in the group behind Woods after the two spent Saturday and Sunday morning playing together but not talking to each other after an incident in the third round, matched Woods' birdie on 16 to grab a share of the lead.
But as Woods stood on the 18th tee, Garcia dunked not one but two balls into the water surrounding the island green at 17. Garcia then knocked his tee shot on 18 into the water.
Woods became the sixth player to win multiple Players titles in the tournament's 40 years, joining Hal Sutton, Fred Couples, Steve Elkington, Davis Love III and Jack Nicklaus, the only three-time winner.
Woods, who had a share of the lead with Garcia and David Lingmerth after 54 holes, has now won 51 of the 55 tournaments he's played when having at least a share of the lead after three rounds.
Woods now has 78 Tour titles, trailing just Sam Snead's all-time mark of 82.
Lingmerth (72) tied for second at 11 under with Kevin Streelman (67) and Jeff Maggert (70).
Garcia (76) dropped six shots in the last two holes to fall out of a tie for the lead to a tie for eighth at 7 under.
Woods and Garcia sniped at each other throughout the weekend.
It started Saturday when Garcia complained in a TV interview that his shot from the par-5 second fairway was disrupted by cheers from the crowd around Woods, who was some 50 yards away in the trees and fired them up by taking a fairway metal out of his bag. He said Woods should have been paying attention, and it became a war of the words the next two days.
"Not real surprising that he's complaining about something," Woods said.
"At least I'm true to myself," Garcia retorted. "I know what I'm doing, and he can do whatever he wants."
When they finished the storm-delayed third round Sunday morning, Garcia kept at it, saying that Woods is "not the nicest guy on tour."
Garcia, when asked if he would have changed anything about the flap with Woods, replied, "It sounds like I was the bad guy here. I was the victim."
Numbers piling up for Tiger
4: Victories in 2013. This is the earliest Woods has ever reached four wins in a season.
7: Victories in his last 21 PGA Tour stroke-play events.
52 of 56: Conversion rate when Woods has at least a share of the 54-hole lead.
78: Career PGA Tour victories. Sam Snead, with 82, is No. 1 on the list.
300: PGA Tour starts (including as an amateur). Woods also won in his 100th and 200th PGA Tour starts.
$5,849,600: Official PGA Tour earnings in 2013.
$106,800,300: Official career PGA Tour earnings.