PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — It will be nearly impossible to forget the double dunk by Sergio Garcia at the devilish 17th hole on Sunday, but he wasn’t the only player who saw his chance at winning the Players Championship disappear into a watery grave at the Stadium Course’s signature hole.
Jeff Maggert, bidding to become the oldest champion in Players history, came to the 17th tee locked in a three-way tie for the lead, with Garcia and Tiger Woods. But Maggert’s tee shot on No. 17 was short all the way — hit thin, he later would say — the splash effectively ending any hope he had. It led to a double-bogey 5, and not even a birdie at the 18th hole, where his approach took the slope and stopped 2 feet away, could ease the sting. It simply allowed Maggert, at age 49, to tie for second.
“Poor execution there, and unfortunately, you know, when you’ve got water in front of the green, that’s not a good time to be short of the green,” said Maggert, who shot 70. “What can I say? A wrong shot at the wrong time and you get penalized on this golf course. But I was fortunate enough to play the rest of the course well and post a decent score today.”
A trio of 67s
Low rounds of the day were 5-under-par 67s by Kevin Streelman, Martin Laird, and Jimmy Walker, with Streelman and Laird using the final-round surge to flirt with victory.
Streelman’s 67 left him as the leader in the clubhouse for roughly 45 minutes until Maggert also finished at 11 under. Streelman birdied No. 16, then canned a 36-footer on the 17th for another birdie. He finished two shots behind Woods, in a tie for second with Maggert and David Lingmerth.
“I was fortunate to have a really nice finish and birdie two of the last three,” Streelman said. “I hit it great, I was smart on my putts. It was a really solid round.”
Laird was 6 under on the day, also two shots behind Woods at 11 under, and working on a bogey-free round before dropping a shot on No. 18.
“That’s one of the best rounds I’ve played all year,” said Laird, who tied for fifth after closing with a 67 at the Stadium Course for the second straight year. “I think I probably played better today than I did last year. I think it was playing a little tougher today.”
Walker had it to 7 under on his round before dumping his tee shot into the water on No. 17 and taking double bogey. He finished at 6 under, and jumped from a tie for 51st to a tie for 15th.
Green jacket effect
Adam Scott emerged from his three-week break with a top-20 finish (T19), but felt he played better than he scored.
He wasn’t licking his wounds, though. He has something nice waiting for him back at the house: The green jacket he won last month at the Masters.
“I was hoping for better, but it’s a good start back,” said Scott, whose next PGA Tour appearance will be the Memorial, which starts May 30.
No repeat champ
Matt Kuchar (76) put balls in the water on 17 and 18 and finished double bogey, triple bogey. He tied for 48th, ensuring that the Players never has had a repeat champion . . . James Driscoll overcame a first-round 75 to grind out a top-30 finish. The Boston resident closed with a 71 and tied for 26th. His only better showings this season were a tie for ninth at Pebble Beach, and a tie for 21st at the Tampa Bay Championship . . . Out first as a single because an odd number of players (77) made the cut, Bo Van Pelt needed 3 hours 6 minutes to shoot a final-round 68 . . . Peter Hanson went 8-6 on Nos. 14-15, playing the two par-4 holes a combined 6 over par. He closed with an 82 . . . There were 13 balls in the water on No. 17 Sunday, and 44 for the week. But it was the 18th hole that played hardest, in the final round (4.558) and also for the tournament (4.393).