PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Lee Westwood’s drives let him down early. His iron shots did him in late.
The 37-year-old Englishman struggled from the start and faded from contention at The Players Championship, shooting a 2-over 74 in the final round Sunday to finish four strokes behind winner Tim Clark.
“Disappointed, but not something I’m going to pull my hair out over,” said Westwood, who finished in a four-way tie for fourth at 12-under 276. “If you don’t play well, then you don’t deserve to win, and I just didn’t play well enough over the weekend.”
Still, Westwood had a chance on the back nine. He trailed Clark by a stroke heading to the par-4 14th, then pushed another tee shot well right. Westwood couldn’t reach the green from there and ended up with a bogey.
He could have gained ground at the par-5 16th, but hit a poor approach shot into a green-side bunker and failed to get up and down for birdie.
“It was just another rubbish iron shot, the 5-iron in there,” he said. “I should be able to hit that to the left side of the green and then just drift it in there on the wind. … It wasn’t the putt to blame. It was the poor iron shot.”
Things really unraveled for him on the par-3 17th, the famed island green.
Westwood wavered between hitting a soft 9-iron and a strong wedge. He went with the wedge from 136 yards away, but his ball never reached land. It splashed into the murky lagoon, costing Westwood about $193,000 and any chance of making a comeback.
“It was a tricky yardage,” he said. “I was caught between a little 9-iron and forcing a wedge. I lent on a wedge, got in front of it and it climbed up into the wind. On that line, it was never going to carry.”
Westwood, who started the day with a one-shot lead over Robert Allenby, became the latest 54-hole leader to come up short at this event. It’s happened eight times in the last 10 years.
“If I would have played well and not won, then it would have been an even bigger disappointment,” said Westwood, who called TPC Sawgrass “very close to a major championship test” last week. “But I just didn’t play well enough today. … If you don’t play well, you don’t deserve to win.”
GOYDOS’ GAFFE: Paul Goydos, who missed a chance to win the 2008 Players in a playoff because his tee shot at the island green found water, had another forgettable hole Sunday. Goydos five-putted the par-4 seventh and carded a triple-bogey 7.
It started with his approach shot, which landed on the upper ridge about 50 feet from the pin. He tried to nestle his first putt on the crown of the slope and let it run to the hole, but he left it short and on the fringe. He blew his second putt past the hole and off the green on the other side. He three-putted from the fringe, failing to make a pair of 3-footers.
“I had no chance on the first putt,” Goydos said. “I missed the green with two putts in a row. I started on the green, putted off the green, putted off the green again. Could have played safe and played 20 feet of the hole, but I wasn’t in the mood to play safe at that point.”
Goydos shot a 9-over 81 and finished at 1-over 289.
PAR TRAIN: Hunter Mahan became just the fourth player to post all pars in a round at The Players Championship.
Mahan parred every hole in the final round and enjoyed one of just two bogey-free rounds Sunday. Winner Tim Clark (67) also was bogey free.
Justin Leonard was the last to post all pars in a round. He did it in 2007 and 1996. John Inman (1993) and Mark McCumber (1985) also accomplished the feat. How rare is it? Well, those five scorecards are among more than 12,000 rounds played since the tournament’s inception in 1974.
IDLE CHITCHAT: Tiger Woods and Jason Bohn haven’t played many rounds together, but they found something in common to talk about Sunday.
Woods and Bohn both missed significant time in 2008 – Woods after having knee surgery after winning the U.S. Open and Bohn after having three back surgeries. They talked about their time away on the par-4 sixth, one hole before Woods tweaked a neck injury and withdrew from the tournament.
“I tried to play through that, obviously not to the success that he had,” said Bohn, who eventually shut it down and had surgery to repair a fragmented disk in his back. Doctors cut his spinal cord during surgery, causing more problems.
Bohn, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans winner last month, said money makes guys play through injuries on the PGA Tour.
“I don’t think anybody does it very successfully, and I think that’s what makes that whole U.S. Open Championship with Tiger like one of the greatest sports stories ever,” Bohn said. “It’s very difficult. Our game is such finesse. There’s so much touch and feel involved that … just something that’s aching on your thumb or a little pulled muscle somewhere makes a major impact on the way that you swing the golf club.”