Sun Sentinel
PGA Tour
Awesome final round gives Stenson Players Championship

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Henrik Stenson sucked all of the drama out of an interesting final pairing between Tiger Woods and Alex Cejka on Sunday.

With the final twosome struggling in the final round, Stenson fired a flawless, six-under 66 to become the first Swede to win The Players Championship.

Stenson finished at 12-under 276 and won the title by four strokes over Ian Poulter, who managed a two-under 70, at the Stadium Course at the TPC at Sawgrass.

"It was a nice day's work," said Stenson, who collected his second PGA Tour win after the 2007 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. "I played well all week and managed my game really well and myself more than anything. Obviously, it pays off."

Woods never mounted any kind of charge in the final round and bogeyed two of his first four holes to immediately drop out of contention. He netted three birdies and two bogeys the rest of the way.

Woods equaled his worst score when playing in the final pairing on Sunday with a one-over 73. The difference was, in the three previous occasions Woods shot a 73 in the final round, he still won the championship.

Not on Sunday.

Woods took eighth alone at minus-five.

"Just a long, frustrating day," said Woods. "I thought I was doing a pretty good job of getting it around."

Stenson, who was ranked ninth in the world before the start of the tournament, completed an epic turnaround on Sunday.

His five-stroke comeback in the final round matched Justin Leonard's record from 1998 and all totaled, Stenson completed a 13-shot overall difference between himself and the third-round leader.

Cejka took a five-shot advantage into Sunday and fell apart quickly. He finished with a disappointing seven-over 79.

"I think I played a little better than my score showed today," said Cejka. "I was doing my thing. The iron play was a little too aggressive. Maybe a little patient next time."

John Mallinger and Kevin Na both posted two-under 70s on Sunday to share third at seven-under 281. Jim Furyk (69), Brian Davis (71) and Ben Crane (72) tied for fifth at minus-six.

With no one really playing well on Sunday, it left the door open for Stenson.

Cejka struggled immediately. Through his first six holes, the German had three bogeys and a double-bogey and surrendered the lead to Crane, who was two-under thanks to back-to-back birdies at one and two.

Woods was one-over through six and showed he'd be no serious final-round threat.

Stenson sat patiently and waited for his opportunity. He parred his first six holes, then ran home a 16-foot birdie putt from the fringe at the seventh. That birdie got Stenson within one of Crane's lead, but trouble loomed for Crane.

At the eighth, Crane missed the green with his tee ball and ran his second shot five feet past the stick. He missed that par save coming back and fell into a tie for first with Stenson.

The tie didn't last long.

Stenson reached the green in two at the par-five ninth. He lagged his 50- footer inside three feet and tapped in for birdie and the outright lead. That was an advantage Stenson never relinquished the rest of the way.

The Swede recorded his next birdie at the next par five, the 11th. His second fell into a greenside bunker, but he blasted out to six feet and made the birdie try. Stenson was nine-under for the championship and two clear of the field.

Stenson sank a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-three 13th and Crane made bogey. That bogey knocked Crane out of contention, but several players were three back at minus-seven.

Poulter converted a six-footer for birdie at the 15th to close the gap to two. Stenson, in the group behind Poulter, hit a nine-iron approach to two feet and kicked in the short putt to reclaim his three-stroke cushion.

One hole later, Stenson landed on the putting surface in two and rolled his eagle try down to two feet. He holed the birdie putt for a four-shot lead with two to play.

Those two, however, are the island 17th and the demanding 18th with water down the left.

Stenson played safely away from the flag at 17 and two-putted for par. At the last, he hammered a drive down the middle and knocked his second 20 feet shy of the flagstick.

Stenson hit a safe putt to a foot. He tapped in for the par and his second win in the U.S.

"It's an honor to win it," said Stenson. "It feels like a major championship. I'm going to take a lot of good things with me into the majors this year."

Stenson became the first champion to card a bogey-free round on Sunday since Davis Love III in 2003. One other stat to illustrate Stenson's path to victory was that he missed only two fairways on the weekend.

Cejka's 79 dropped him into a tie for ninth at minus-four. The first players out on Sunday, Aaron Baddeley (66), Vijay Singh (67), Tim Clark (69) and David Toms (70) joined Cejka eight off the lead.

Sergio Garcia, the 2008 champion, shot a three-under 69 and tied for 22nd at minus-two.

Phil Mickelson, who won two years ago, finished with a double-bogey and a bogey for a four-over 76. He finished in a group tied for 55th at three-over 291.