Players Championship: Martin Kaymer celebrates Sawgrass success
Last Updated: 12/05/14 12:42pm
Martin Kaymer admitted his Players Championship victory felt like another major title following a dramatic triumph in near-darkness at Sawgrass.
Kaymer became just the fourth European to win the event in 41 years after carding a final round of 71 to finish 13-under-par, one shot ahead of Jim Furyk.
The former world No 1 had looked to be cruising to victory when he held a three-shot lead on the 14th hole, only for an approaching thunderstorm to force the players off the course.
Furyk was facing a short par putt on the 18th when play was suspended, the American biting his putter in frustration as thunder sounded overhead.
The former US Open champion duly holed out to complete a superb 66 when play resumed after a 90-minute delay, and then watched as Kaymer ran up his first double bogey of the week on the 15th after pulling his drive into the trees and fluffing his third shot into a greenside bunker.
After surprisingly opting not to chip from off the 16th green and three-putting for par, Kaymer looked certain to drop another shot when his tee shot on the famous par-three 17th caught the bank of a bunker and span back to within inches of the water.
However, the man who holed the putt which ensured Europe retained the Ryder Cup in 2012 produced another brilliant stroke under pressure, holing a curling par attempt from 29 feet to remain one ahead.
A par on the last therefore secured the win and meant Kaymer followed in the footsteps of European winners Sandy Lyle (1987), Sergio Garcia (2008) and Henrik Stenson (2009). Garcia birdied the last to finish outright third on 11 under with Justin Rose and overnight joint leader Jordan Spieth sharing fourth on 10 under.
Kaymer, who won the US PGA Championship in August 2010 and became world number one for eight weeks the following February, said: "It's always very difficult to come back after a little break, you see the leaderboard, you see where you are.
"When you are playing the first 14 holes you are in it and just keep going. I played really really well and you are really disappointed when they called it (off). Obviously there was a reason for it.
"And then you are a little cold and I made a couple of wrong decisions. On 15 you give yourself a chance for par, you don't be that aggressive and try to go for it. And then on 16 you have to chip it, it was not the right decision but it was a big putt on 17. It feels like a major win."
Earlier in the week Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley walked a few holes in practice with Kaymer, who added: "I'm still a few points behind but I will do everything I can to make the team. It will be really nice to part of it again; once you've done it once you always want to be there."