Woods made five birdies and an eagle in the final round Sunday -- he had five birdies in the first three rounds combined -- and ended up at even par for the tournament.
He shot a 5-under 67 on Sunday, tied for 37th and earned $38,700.
It marked the sixth consecutive year Woods has been out of contention at THE PLAYERS. In fact, he hasn't finished in the top 10 since winning the tournament in 2001. His best finish was 11th in 2003.
'This year I felt like I hit the ball decent or at least good enough to contend, but I didn't make any putts,' Woods said. 'Consequently I'm well out of it. In years past I haven't really played all that well.'
Woods played well Sunday, posting his best score since closing with a 67 in the final round in 2001.
'I didn't play that much better. I just made some putts,' Woods said.
Woods said he had 12 putts lip-out over the final two rounds -- and that was his biggest problem on the redesigned course that features Bermuda greens.
'I'm just thinking if I just make a few putts, I'd be all right,' he said. 'I knew I could shoot a round in the 60s here if I'd just make a few putts, and I did.'
Sergio Garcia felt like a debate with his playing partner's caddie cost him at least a stroke in the final round.
Garcia's second shot on the par-5 second landed over the green, prompting him to take relief from a drain. But Garcia said Cliff Kresge's caddie questioned whether he actually took full relief with his drop.
'I've never tried to do anything wrong on a golf course,' Garcia said. 'If I would have felt at any time that I wasn't taking full relief, I would have called for a ruling and do whatever was right. But I felt like I did and that's all there is to it. I took relief from the drainage, but it's not a big deal.'
Garcia said Kresge's caddie wanted to make it a big deal.
'Pretty much, they were calling me a cheater on that,' Garcia said. You never like that. I've never cheated in my whole life. I'd rather shoot 85 than shoot 65 cheating. I never liked that.'
Kresge and his caddie were unavailable for comment.
Garcia said the dispute made him tense and 'definitely' cost him at least one stroke. He finished second at 9 under.
'I finally relaxed toward the fourth or fifth hole and kept playing the way I was playing,' Garcia said. 'It was one of those things that happen.'
The par-3 17th, the famed island green at TPC Sawgrass, started and finished the tournament in record fashion.
The treacherous hole set a single-day record with 50 balls hit into the water on a blustery Thursday, broke the tournament record the following day and extended the mark to 94 Sunday. The previous record was 67 set in 2005.
Eleven tee shots -- 13 in all -- were hit into the murky lagoon during the final round, none more painful than third-round leader Sean O'Hair's. Trailing Phil Mickelson by two strokes, O'Hair took dead aim at the pin and flew the green.
He knocked his next shot in the water as well and carded a triple bogey. He also bogeyed No. 18 and ended up in 11th place.
'I can't let that hole or the last hole dictate how I played this week,' O'Hair said.
Steve Stricker found the water with unconventional means. His tee shot landed in the greenside bunker, then he sculled his next shot from a downhill lie. It came out low and fast, rolling through the green and dropping into the drink.
Stricker had to walk back to the drop zone for his next shot and ended up with a 6.
No. 17 played at an average of 3.386 strokes, the highest in tournament history. The previous mark was 3.368 set in 1984.
Jose Maria Olazabal finished his round -- he shot a 5-under 67 to move to 8 under for the tournament -- and literally started running off the Stadium Course.
The Spaniard had a flight to catch.
Given how much ground he made up the last three days at THE PLAYERS, few probably would have bet against Olazabal to make it to the airport on time.
Olazabal shot a 6-over 78 in the first round Thursday, but rebounded by shooting 14 under over the final 54 holes. He finished tied for third, four shots behind winner Phil Mickelson. He also earned $522,000.
It was Olazabal's best finish on the PGA TOUR this year and his best since a third-place showing in the 2006 Masters.
'I'll take the week as a positive thing for me,' he said. 'I needed a good week. This was one of them.'
Olazabal can thank a string of birdies on the weekend for his finish. He birdied Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 during the third round and nearly did the same thing Sunday. He had birdies at 9, 10, 11 and 12 in the final round.
'It was pretty much the same scenario,' Olazabal said. 'I had a good run at the middle of the round and that put me in a good position.'
After all the talk about Rory Sabbatini's comments about wanting to play against Tiger Woods every week, Sabbatini finished 1 over and one shot behind Woods. ... Arron Oberholser teed off first and by himself Sunday, and finished in two hours, 40 minutes. ... Phil Mickelson become the first left-hander to win THE PLAYERS. ... Sergio Garcia was 11 under in the final 36 holes, one off the tournament record.
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