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Never Quarrel With A Tiger

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA | After all the cutting remarks that had given this Players Championship a venomous edge, perhaps it’s fitting that it ended with a drowning. Tiger Woods won the Players Championship for the same reason he has won 77 other PGA Tour events – because he has a will, a game and a presence that feeds on moments like Sunday afternoon when mouths go dry, nerves go raw and brains go fuzzy. It’s why he’s not Sergio García. For 70 holes, García played exceptional golf, refusing to go away, hanging around like bad credit. Then it was gone with cruel suddenness when García turned into a tourist and dunked two balls on the infamous par-3 17th hole at the Stadium Course, his biting duel with Woods suddenly sleeping with the fish and turtles in Pete Dye’s pond. You don’t have to like García, whose demeanor hasn’t made him very lovable these last few years, but it would take a diamond-hard heart not to feel a little something for him when all that work and all that emotion went wasted with one swing. The second ball in the water likely didn’t hurt because García was probably numb by then. The same goes for his tee shot into the big pond at No. 18. So solid for so long, Sergio was suddenly getting more water time than Michael Phelps. Golf does that once in a while. Ask Jeff Maggert, who made a half-million dollar mistake when he put his tee shot into the water at No. 17. His 49-year-old nerves took him to the edge then let him down. And there stood Woods – again. It’s what he has done for years and it’s why, when it’s all over, his career may be unequaled. There are still milestones set by Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead for Woods to surpass but he seems to have arrived in his second or third prime at age 37. Asked Sunday evening in his post-tournament news conference if he was surprised to have won four times already this season, Woods said no. “I know a lot of people in this room thought I was done, but I’m not,” he said.


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