KJ Choi lands Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass

KJ Choi
South Korean Choi is the first Asian to win golf's unofficial fifth major

South Korea's KJ Choi beat American David Toms in a play-off to win the Players Championship at Sawgrass.

The pair finished tied on 13 under but 2001 USPGA champion Toms three-putted the short 17th, the first sudden-death play-off hole, as Choi made par.

American Paul Goydos was 11 under, with countryman Nick Watney and England's Luke Donald another shot behind.

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, who led by one going into the final round, collapsed to a 79 for five under.

"To be honest I felt I ran out of steam a little bit," said US Open champion McDowell. "After bogeys on six and seven I felt the energy sucked right out of me.

"I went flat and everything I tried to do went a little wrong."

Choi, the first Asian to win golf's unofficial fifth major, was understandably delighted to claim his eighth victory in the US, more than any other Asian player.

"For some reason I felt so comfortable out there," said Choi. "The swing I have right now just doesn't break down under pressure situations.

"I was able to be precise and aggressive and keep my rhythm together and that is what brought this performance."

After more than four hours were lost because of rain and thunderstorms on Saturday, most of the field had to finish their third rounds early on Sunday morning and McDowell resumed on the sixth green as the joint leader with Watney.

The US Open champion completed a 68 for 12 under, marred by a double bogey via the water on 18, to take a slim lead into the closing 18 holes.

But despite a solid start, McDowell's challenge fell apart as he dropped shots at the sixth, seventh, ninth, 13th and 15th.

"I felt my legs were a little tired this afternoon. I was up at 4.35am, but it was the same for everybody, there are no excuses.

Graeme McDowell
McDowell struggled throughout his final round at Sawgrass

"I didn't have the energy levels to pick myself up and I tried to force the issue a little bit. I went chasing and this course will do that to you. This is going to hurt for a few hours, but we will move on quickly.

"I said that no matter what happened over the weekend I was going to take some really big positives."

American Toms was one back alongside Choi at the start of round four and picked up three shots in his first six holes. He gave one back at the eighth but seven straight pars kept him in front as the expected challenge faltered.

But Toms, 44, found the water at 16 en route to a bogey to slide back to 12 under alongside playing partner Choi, who missed a five-foot birdie chance for a two-shot swing.

However, Choi edged in front with a birdie on the treacherous short 17th, with its infamous island green, as Toms could only make par. McDowell, the third man in the group, again found the water for a double bogey and also bogeyed the last via the water.

On the 18th, Toms holed from 20ft for birdie while Choi missed his birdie chance from about 10ft to go into a play-off.

Both men returned to the 17th and found the heart of the green off the tee, but Toms missed his par putt from a couple of feet and the 40-year-old Choi calmly slotted in his par to clinch the biggest title of his career.

Toms, who won the USPGA Championship in 2001 but who has not won in 124 starts since Hawaii in 2006, was left looking for positives from his near miss.

"It is disappointing but I hung in there," he said. "It's been a long time since I've been in this position, to be in the lead on a tough golf course, it shows I can still do it.

"I need to work on putting, if I had putted well I could have put a bit of distance between myself and the others."

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