Players Championship – Rory McIlroy wins in thrilling finish
Rory McIlroy celebrated St Patrick’s Day in style with victory in the prestigious Players Championship after a thrilling final round at Sawgrass.
McIlroy recovered from an early double bogey to card a closing 70 and finish 16 under par, one shot ahead of former Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk, who had threatened to become the oldest winner in tournament history.
Furyk set the clubhouse target after a 67 that included two birdies in the last three holes, the 48-year-old – who is less than a month older than Fred Funk was when he won in 2005 – hitting a brilliant approach to just three feet at the last.
On his tournament debut, England’s Eddie Pepperell shared third place with Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas on 14 under, both players holing improbable birdie putts on the 17th in matching rounds of 66.
England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who began the day in joint second with McIlroy, gave himself an outside chance of forcing a play-off with his Ryder Cup teammate with an eagle on the 16th, only to promptly hit his tee shot on the 17th into the water.
Said Rory McIlroy in his winning speech
“This has been one of the best starts to a year of my career … all those chances helped me today … I double bogeyed the fourth hole and didn’t get upset, and played some good golf down the stretch … the driver didn’t behave itself very well yesterday, so I gave it a couple of slaps on the range yesterday and it behaved better today … hopefully this will stand me in good stead for the rest of the year … I’ve started the second phase of my career, and feel I can make the next ten years even better than my first ten … I work very hard and do the right things … it means everything to be a Players champion, it’s the toughest tournament to win, it’s got the deepest field in the world … there are great names on this trophy and I am honoured and proud to put my name with them.”
All that’s left is to take a look at the final leaderboard …
-14: Pepperell, Vegas
-13: D Johnson, Snedeker, Fleetwood
-12: Matsuyama, Rose, Harman, Day
-11: Scott, Dahmen, Ancer, Rahm
-10: Taylor, Simpson, Bradley, Schniederjans
-9: Moore, DeChambeau
-8: Garcia, Poston, Finau, Kisner
-7: Grillo, Horschel, Kuchar, An
-6: Woodland, Woods, Wallace, Bjerregaard, Hoge