Players Championship flashback: Stephen Ames' March victory
By Mike Patterson
Last Updated: 12/03/19 10:00am
The Players Championship has returned to its old March slot in the PGA Tour calendar this year with the action getting under way at TPC Sawgrass on March 14.
The tournament was played in the second half of March from 1977 to 2006, as part of the Florida Swing, before being moved to May in 2007.
The switch back to March is sure to bring back happy memories for one man in Stephen Ames, who claimed the biggest victory of his career when he became the last March winner of the tournament by triumphing at Sawgrass on March 26, 2006, beating a field which included 48 of the world's top 50.
Ames, who holds dual citizenship of Trinidad and Tobago and Canada, had gone close to winning The Players Championship in 2002 when he was foiled by a storming finish from New Zealand's Craig Perks.
At the age of 41, Ames was back in contention once again four years later at Sawgrass when he followed up an opening 71 with a six-under-par 66, thanks to some excellent putting, to share second place with Adam Scott on seven under, one behind Jim Furyk.
A solid, two-under 70 in the third round was good enough to give Ames a one-shot cushion over Sergio Garcia and Vijay Singh at the top of the leaderboard with 18 holes remaining, as Furyk dropped off the pace with a 75.
There was to be no repeat of 2002 in the final round as Ames set the agenda himself, pulling clear of the field in demanding conditions with an impressive five-under 67 to finish on 14-under 274 and a massive six shots clear of Retief Goosen in second place.
Ames had two birdies on the front nine to open up a four-shot lead but his advantage over Goosen was halved when he slipped up with a double-bogey six at the 10th.
He quickly recovered from that setback, though, as his consistent iron play earned him birdies at the 11th, 13th and 15th before sealing victory - and going seven clear - with an eagle at the par-five 16th after just clearing a bunker by the lake with his second shot.
There were no problems at the famous par-three 17th and the final hole as Ames made back-to-back pars to complete the best round of his life and secure the $1.44m first prize.
"This is big," Ames said afterwards. "This is characterised as the fifth major. I beat the top players in the world."