PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Martin Kaymer survived a late double bogey after a 91-minute rain delay, using a clutch 28-1/2 foot par putt at the iconic 17th hole to claim THE PLAYERS Championship in dramatic fashion Sunday night.
The 29-year-old German finished at 13 under to win his second PGA Tour event; his previous win was the 2010 PGA Championship. Kaymer started the week tying the tournament record with a 9-under 63 in Thursday’s first round.
“It was more than big,” Kaymer said.
“That putt was incredible,” added runner-up Jim Furyk.
The final round ended in near-darkness due to the lengthy delay. Had the new three-hole playoff been needed, it would have taken place Monday.
Furyk, who lives just down the road from TPC Sawgrass, shot a 6-under 66 to finish at 12 under. Furyk was three shots back when he finished his round, but waited at the clubhouse for nearly an hour after learning that Kaymer had double-bogeyed the 15th hole.
Sergio Garcia, the 2008 PLAYERS champ, shot a 70 to finish in solo third at 11 under.
Jordan Spieth, who entered the day tied for the lead with Kaymer, struggled to a 2-over 74 to finish at 10 under and in a tie with Justin Rose for fourth. Rose, who started the day learning that his two-shot penalty in the third round had been rescinded following a review by tournament officials, shot a 69 to move up the leaderboard.
The final round was delayed at 5:39 p.m. ET for 91 minutes due to lightning in the area. At the time the horn blew, Kaymer was three strokes ahead of Furyk, who had a tap-in par putt on his final hole. Kaymer was on the 14th green with a lengthy birdie putt.
He parred the 14th but then on his first full swing after the resumption of play, his tee shot at the 15th sailed left into the pine straw. His approach shot left him with a tough pitch over a bunker. He found the bunker and eventually made double bogey, cutting his lead to one shot and giving him no room for error.
“Made a couple of wrong decisions on 15,” Kaymer said.
At the island-green 17th, his tee shot barely cleared the water, then kicked hard left and almost rolled into the water. He chipped off the rough came up short, leaving him with that 28-footer and the heroic par putt.
“A very strange way to make a 3,” Kaymer said.
After a nice tee shot at the 18th, his approach shot came up short of the green, but he got up-and-down to win the tournament.
The late stumble was surprising, given that Kaymer was steady before the delay, playing bogey-free golf with birdies on each of the first three par-5 holes.
Meanwhile, Spieth, the 20-year-old Texan looking for his second PGA TOUR win, could not keep pace.
Spieth did have the lead briefly with his second birdie of the day at the par-4 fourth. But on the next hole, a poor tee shot forced him to lay up, and he could not save par.
It was his first bogey of the tournament after 58 bogey-free holes, and ended a personal stretch of 73 bogey-free holes on the PGA Tour. It also started a stetch of 11 holes in which he suffered four more birdies to fall out of contention.