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Kaymer wins Players after clutch pars on 17, 18

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Martin Kaymer survived a 90-minute weather delay and held on to win The Players on Sunday, making back-to-back clutch pars on 17 and 18 to edge Jim Furyk by one. Here’s the skinny on the final round at TPC Sawgrass:

The leaderboard: Martin Kaymer (-13); Jim Furyk (-12); Sergio Garcia (-11); Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose (-10)

What it means: The 29-year-old German earned his second PGA Tour title, and his first since the 2010 PGA Championship. He has 10 wins on the European Tour, most recently at the 2012 Nedbank Golf Challenge. The former world No. 1 (for eight weeks, in 2011), who in recent years has slipped outside the top 60, will return to the top 30 when the rankings are released Monday. Prior to this week, Kaymer had just one top 10 in nine starts this season. 

Round of the day: Kaymer’s was certainly the most exciting. He had a three-shot lead and a 20-footer for birdie when the horn sounded. When he returned to the course, he missed the birdie putt, then hooked his tee shot on 15 into the trees. After pulling his approach left of the bunker, he flubbed his third shot in the bunker, then failed to get up and down, leading to a double bogey. On the par-5 16th he played conservatively around the green for par, then barely stayed dry on the island 17th after his tee shot took a strange bounce and then sucked back onto the fringe. After a poor chip, he drained a 27-foot par putt to stay one ahead heading into the home hole. On 18, he pounded a drive down the middle, came up short with his approach from 174 yards and putted to 3 feet for the win.    

Best of the rest: Jim Furyk finished runner-up for the second week in a row, after a closing bogey-free 66 gave the local favorite a chance for a playoff. Ultimately, he once again learned his fate while watching in the clubhouse. 

Biggest disappointment: In position to notch another huge victory, Jordan Spieth instead went backward on Sunday to tumble down the leaderboard. After going 58 holes without a bogey, the 20-year-old dropped five shots in an 11-hole stretch during the final round and wound up in a tie for fourth, three shots behind. 

Shot of the day: Seemingly destined for a playoff, or crushing defeat, Kaymer holed a 27-foot par putt on the 17th hole to stay one clear.  

Quote of the day: “It’s very special for me,” said Kaymer, whose mother passed away in 2008. “I got a text message from my brother, which was very emotional, so it’s a good day for us.”