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Garcia snatches play-off victory

FINAL ROUND LEADERBOARD (US unless stated)
-5 P Goydos, S Garcia (Sp) * -4 J Quinney -1 B Baird level S Ames (Can) +1 B Crane, B Quigley, E Els (SA), T Lehman * Garcia won at first play-off hole
Selected others: +3 B Langer (Ger), F Couples +4 P Mickelson, I Poulter (GB)

Sergio Garcia
Garcia held his nerve to seal the seventh PGA Tour win of his career

Sergio Garcia won his first PGA Tour title in three years after beating Paul Goydos in a play-off to claim the Players Championship at Sawgrass.

Garcia made up three shots on the final round, shooting a one-under 71 to tie with Goydos on five-under.

The pair tackled the notorious short 17th in the play-off, with Garcia's superb tee shot setting up a par while Goydos double-bogeyed.

"It's just a lot of hard work that is starting to pay off," said Garcia.

"It made me feel good for everybody that matters to me.

"This is huge for me and I'm sure it will be huge for everybody back at home.

"And I want to thank Tiger Woods for not being here," he added with a smile. "That always makes things a little bit easier."

Woods missed the tournament after undergoing minor knee surgery last month.

Garcia's victory - the first by a European at this tournament since Britain's Sandy Lyle in 1987 - was also good news for his Ryder Cup prospects as he jumped from 16th to third place on the world points list.

England's Ian Poulter was the highest placed Briton, finishing on four over, while Luke Donald was a further shot back.

The Players' Championship is one of the most prestigious tournaments on the Tour, regarded as the unofficial "fifth major".

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Julian S

Garcia enjoyed a fine week at Sawgrass, leading the statistics for fairways hit and greens in regulation.

But it was a pressure putt from seven feet on the final green which allowed Garcia to get into the play-off.

"Everything was calm, every single part of my body," said Garcia.

"I had a little grin when I was going to the ball, because I felt so calm. I was breathing nicely, I got over the putt, one quick look, and it was nice to see it go in."

Goydos's chances were effectively ended by his choice of club on the first play-off hole.

Regarded as one of the most testing par-threes in golf, the "island" 17th at Sawgrass claimed another victim when the unheralded American decided to go with a wedge rather than the nine-iron he had originally planned.

The tactic had paid off during his final round when he made par, but it was a different story in the play-off as he hit the ball slightly too high, catching the wind and ending up in the water.

But Goydos's caddie Scott Saginac said it was just down to a bad gust of wind, rather than poor judgement.

"He hit a great shot. It was crisp, right out of the middle of the club and while it was in the air I thought it was perfect," he said.

"Paul thought it was good, Sergio thought it was good, we all thought it was good. And then it dropped in the water.

"Five seconds earlier or five seconds later it could have ended up two feet from the pin."

Goydos had a golden chance to win the event in regulation.

But he pushed his tee shot on the 18th into the right rough, hacked out to about 50 yards in front of the green and chunked a pitching wedge to 15 feet.

He missed the par putt, creating the first play-off in 21 years at the Players Championship.


see also
Iain Carter column
12 May 08 |  Golf


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