Monday, June 25, 2018

17th hole ends Garcia's Players hopes

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — It was at the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass five years ago where Sergio Garcia won the Players Championship, when Paul Goydos hit into the water in a sudden-death playoff.

This time, the island green got its revenge on him.

After birdieing No. 16, Garcia stood on the 17th tee tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at 13 under in Sunday's final round. He took aim at the flag with his wedge. The ball splashed down short of the green, and he hung his head.

Garcia took his drop and hit again from the 17th tee. He said he didn't want to go to the drop area because the angle to the traditional Sunday pin tucked on the back right of the green wasn't as good.

The result was the same: He hit the bank short of the green, and the ball bounced into water.

The end result was quadruple-bogey 7.

"I just under hit it a little bit," Garcia said. "I felt with a little bit of adrenaline and stuff, I didn't want to shoot over the green with a wedge. Just needed to hit it a little bit harder, maybe a little too confident. … If I would have hit it a bit farther left it would have been fine.

"That hole has been good to me, for the most part. (Sunday) it wasn't. That's the way it is. That's the kind of hole it is. You've got to love it for what it is."

Effectively knocked out of contention — Garcia wouldn't say he lost the tournament at 17, "but I definitely stopped winning it there" — he went on to double bogey the 18th hole after putting another tee shot into the water, this time into the lake lining the left side of the final fairway.

Final totals: two holes, 13 shots, six strokes lost.

After sharing the lead through 70 holes, Garcia fell into a tie for seventh, closing with 4-over 76. He ended up 7 under for the tournament.

Garcia, who had to finish his third round Sunday morning because of Saturday's rain delay, began the final round tied for the lead with David Lingmerth and Tiger Woods at 11-under 205.

That was the eighth time Garcia has had either an outright or share of the 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour since 2005. He has won just once and is a combined 10 over in those fourth rounds.

Garcia was composed after the round. "It doesn't bug me now," he said of his play on 17, shrugging.

"I thought he hit a great shot," said Lingmerth, who played with Garcia in the final group. "It looked so pure coming off the face and I thought it was going to be good. Then I saw the wind hit it and it went in the water, and my heart just dropped because he had been playing so good. I felt bad for him."

Garcia didn't even mention fans who heckled him. Lingmerth said he felt a "little weird" when confronted by their bad behavior. "It was just sad to see because we had a good day out there."

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