“I stayed really patient,” Woods said. “I kept telling myself, ‘That was your only bad swing you made all day. You can still win this tournament.’”
He figured if he could play the last four holes in 1-under, he would at least get into a playoff. He played the last four in 1 under and won The Players Championship. Of the four players tied for the lead, two went into the water on the 17th — Garcia and Jeff Maggert — while David Lingmerth made a gallant try. He missed an 8-foot birdie chance on the 17th and had to make a 70-foot putt down two ridges on the 18th to tie. He three-putted for bogey.
Woods now is 52-4 when he has at least a share of the lead going into the final round on the PGA Tour, which does not count his playoff win over Tom Lehman in La Costa. They were tied for the lead when rain washed out the last round. Woods won in a playoff when Lehman hit into the water, and Woods hit his tee shot to a foot.
His four wins this year speak to why Woods is such a good closer. He has yet to break 70 in the final round in those four wins. He didn’t need to.
Of the 52 times that Woods won with at least a share of the lead after 54 holes, his average score in the final round is 70.5. The 22 times he has won when trailing after 54 holes, his average score in the final round is 66.6.
It’s all about doing whatever it takes to win. And when you don’t, make sure it’s because someone else beats you.