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A big putt, and a big win for Martin Kaymer

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 12, 2014 at 2:30 am •  Published: May 12, 2014

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Martin Kaymer thought his gap wedge to the island green on the 17th hole at The Players Championship was fine. He couldn't believe it when he realized it had bounced sideways and spun so hard that it wound up in the shaggy collar, a foot away from going into the water.

That one shot summed up the final hour of Kaymer's remarkable victory Sunday at the TPC Sawgrass.

There was stress and surprise around every corner, not the least of which was Kaymer saving par with a 30-foot putt on the 17th hole that sped down a slope, turned right and rolled into the middle of the cup. That carried him to a one-shot victory over Jim Furyk, the first trophy for the 29-year-old German since the end of 2012.

He putted from short of the 18th green to 3 feet, rapped that in for another par and closed with a 1-under 71.

But it was that par on the 17th that will be the signature moment of a peculiar week at Sawgrass.

"I thought it was actually a good golf shot, maybe 2 feet short," Kaymer said. "I don't know. That's the way it looked from the tee box. Yeah, I was very surprised it was not even on the green. Yeah, I look forward to seeing the 17th hole in general. It was a very strange way to make a 3."

It was a finish Kaymer could not have imagined.

Jordan Spieth began The Players by going 58 holes without a bogey, only to make five in the next 11 holes and miss another opportunity at a big event. He shared the 54-hole lead at the Masters and The Players and watched someone else leave with the trophy.

Furyk was the runner-up for the second straight week, both times from the locker room. He closed with a 66 — waiting 90 minutes through a storm delay before he could return to tap in for par on the 18th, and then another hour to see if his 12-under 278 would be enough to catch Kaymer, or at least force a playoff.

Kaymer, who looked so finely tuned all week, was a changed man after the rain delay. He hardly missed a shot and built a three-shot lead, only to return from the break and leave his thinking cap back in the clubhouse at Sawgrass.

A bad tee shot and an even worse chip led to a double bogey on the 15th hole, and suddenly his lead was down to one shot. In position to make birdie at the par-5 16th, he chose the safe — nervous, in this case — play with a putter up the slope of the green and had to two-putt from 35 feet just to make par.

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