Martin Kaymer wins the Players Championship
Martin Kaymer survived a weather delay, and some suspect play down the stretch, to win the 2014 Players Championship under darkness at TPC Sawgrass.
Coming into the day, Kaymer was tied at the top with Jordan Spieth at 12-under par but some notable names also lurked at just three shots back, as John Senden, Sergio Garcia and after a controversial rules decision (more on that in a second), Justin Rose was also in the mix at 9-under par. Kaymer jumped out in front early as Spieth struggled, and despite some quality play from Garcia, Rose and Jim Furyk, Kaymer carried a three shot lead as the horn blew on the 14th hole thanks to inclement weather.
When play resumed, Furyk finished his round with a par at 18 to set the clubhouse number at 12-under par. Kaymer meanwhile started to unravel on the 15th, sending his tee shot left into the trees and leaving himself on the wrong side of the bunker left of the green. A double bogey would follow, cutting the lead to one and that’s where it stayed until Kaymer got to the par-3 17th where he got maybe one of the luckiest breaks I’ve ever seen:
After hitting a terrible shot that caromed off of the mound in front, his ball spun back and nearly went into the water, just staying above the hazard line. He would hit a pretty awful pitch, leaving himself a nearly impossible look at par.
Nobody expected Kaymer to drop that bomb. With his one shot lead maintained, Kaymer was able to make par on the 18th and secure his first victory since the 2012 Nedbank and his first in North America since the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
- 1. Martin Kaymer -13
- 2. Jim Furyk -12
- 3. Sergio Garcia -11
- T4. Justin Rose -10
- T4. Jordan Spieth -10
What The Win Means For Kaymer
That win at the Nedbank came in December of 2012, a few months after Kaymer sank the winning putt for the European Ryder Cup team at Medinah, and I remember thinking that perhaps that was the kickstart that his career needed. Unfortunately, it never happened and Kaymer’s been struggling with what he termed earlier this week as mostly “a mental battle”. When it comes to Kaymer, I think there’s a sense that he was some kind of fluke winner at Whistling Straits and that he was a joke as a number one player, but you also have to remember the kind of consistency he showed just a few years ago.
This is a guy who won eight tournaments worldwide in a two-year span. Yes, only one of them was in North America as Johnny Miller frequently pointed out on the Sunday broadcast, but it’s difficult to win anywhere and it’s not like the European Tour is full of hackers either. Hopefully this win gets Kaymer a little more respect in North America, and you’d have to think he’s back on Paul McGinley’s radar for the European Ryder Cup team. He will also take home roughly $1.8 million for the win, and he’ll also move up 33 spots in the Official World Golf Rankings to number 28.
The Justin Rose Penalty/Non-Penalty
The above GIF is footage of something that caused quite a stir last night and into this morning. Rose was initially penalized for what appeared to be his ball moving, but when everyone reconvened this morning, Rose was given his two shots back thanks to that “naked eye” rule that I talked about months ago.
I don’t have a single problem with anything that Rose did, and the way he’s handled the situation has been perfect, but as I talked about in that post from a while ago, it has the potential for causing more problems than anything, which is what we saw here. With Rose moving back to 9-under par, he had a real chance to win this tournament, and if he had done that, you can imagine the shit storm that would have been created with him being cleared of any wrongdoing. Kyle Porter has more details on this specific incident at CBS, but I’ll say this: we haven’t heard the last of this or the rule in general.
GIF of the Week
Not going to get much better than this of Richard H. Lee on Sunday at the 17th.
Other Notes and Takeaways
- Notables to miss the cut: Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson, Kevin Stadler, Graham DeLaet, Webb Simpson, Harris English, Thomas Bjorn, J.B. Holmes, Nick Watney, Hunter Mahan, Tim Clark, Louis Oosthuizen and Patrick Reed.
- Other notable finishes: Jimmy Walker, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari and Lee Westwood (T6), Gary Woodland (T11), Steve Stricker (T13), Russell Henley and Matt Kuchar (T17), Hideki Matsuyama (T23), Billy Horschel, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas (T26), Henrik Stenson (T34), Luke Donald, Angel Cabrera and Adam Scott (T38), Charl Schwartzel, Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson and Brandt Snedeker (T48), Dustin Johnson (T59), Graeme McDowell (T62), Ian Poulter (T65), Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler and Jonas Blixt (MDF).
- Injury Report:
- D.H. Lee (WD – shoulder): After firing a first round 78, Lee pulled out early in the second round with a shoulder problem. He’ll try again next week at the Byron Nelson.
- Briny Baird (WD – back): Baird also shot 78 in the opening round and made it through the front nine on Friday before packing it in. He’ll also try to play at the Nelson next week.
- Should Phil Mickelson be concerned at this point? I’m not convinced of that since he’s always been a very streaky player, but the quality performances have been few and far between, even from a round to round point of view. Him being inconsistent is something that we should all be used to at this point, but he hasn’t looked anywhere near comfortable all season long.
- It was brought up at several points on Sunday on both sides of the argument, but can we please stop talking about Spieth’s inability to close? He’s 20 years old, and he’s frequently in contention. In case you haven’t heard, golf is hard.
- So, Geoff Ogilvy might be an asshole, but Ben Everill says that those reports are severely overblown.
- Did this performance get Furyk back into serious Ryder Cup consideration? It might, but watching him line up putt after putt and take forever doing it, is one of a few reasons as to why I wouldn’t be thrilled about him representing his country at Gleneagles.
- Even though Sergio leaked a little oil at points, most notably on the 11th when he went for the green in two from the pine straw, over water at 270+, his run of ridiculous form continues and he’s right up there with Matt Kuchar in terms of the most consistent players in the world right now.
- He might not like another backdoor top-10, but Rory shouldn’t be too upset with the way he played this week. Yeah, he was awful on the front nine all week, but he dominated the back, which is something that he should look at as a positive.
Before I finish this off, I need to talk about the situation on the European Tour this week. The European Tour was in Portugal for the Madeira Islands Open when Iain McGregor, caddie for Alastair Forsyth, collapsed on the 9th hole. He was later pronounced dead.
Now, obviously this is a horrible situation and in terms of coming to a decision on what to do, this would make anyone uneasy. After consulting with players and caddies, they decided to play on with England’s Daniel Brooks defeating Scotland’s Scott Henry in a playoff. I know it’s tough, but how on earth did this tournament continue? The reaction on Twitter, mostly from European Tour players who weren’t in the event, was one of utter shock and disbelief that they kept on playing. It’s going to take a very long time for the European Tour to get past this one.
My deepest condolences to McGregor’s family and friends.