Choi beats Toms in playoff to win Players|
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (Sports Network) - K.J. Choi parred the first playoff
hole Sunday, the famed island green 17th, to defeat David Toms and win The
Both players shot two-under 70s in the final round and finished regulation
tied at 13-under 275.
Choi hit a nine-iron to the back of the green and just over 40 feet from the
hole at the 17th, while Toms played the same club and his ball stopped 19 feet
from the stick.
Choi ran his birdie putt just inside three feet past the hole. Toms' birdie
effort ran by the hole on the left side, but he had just over three feet for
Toms missed his par try on the left, opening the door for Choi. He tapped in
the par putt to earn his eighth PGA Tour victory and first since the 2008 Sony
Open in Hawaii.
"I'm so excited," Choi said on the 17th green.
For Toms, this was a tough loss considering he was happy with how he played 17
in the extra session.
"I thought I made the first one," admitted Toms, who hadn't missed a putt
inside five feet all week until the playoff. "I hit a great tee shot. I just
wasn't there on the putt. I was probably thinking ahead, thinking about the
next hole and I just got up there and missed it."
The journey to the playoff was a wild one.
Toms held a one-shot lead on the par-five 16th, but dumped his second in the
water and made bogey. Choi had a chance to complete the two-shot swing, but
missed a five-foot birdie putt.
The two were tied on the famous 17th hole and Choi knocked a nine-iron 10 feet
short of the flagstick. Toms' ball stopped along the collar of rough short of
the hole and he got up and down for par. Choi poured in the birdie putt to
move one ahead with one to play.
Both players found the fairway at 18, although Toms' ball landed in a sand-
filled divot. Choi had 231 yards and came up short and right with his second,
while Toms hit a magnificent shot 17 feet right of the cup. Choi chipped up to
five feet, but Toms buried the birdie putt to tie and put all of the pressure
on Choi, who missed two putts during the final round from five feet or closer.
Choi stepped up and drained the par putt to send the two to the playoff.
It was on the first sudden-death hole where Choi became the first Asian-born
player to win this championship.
For Toms, 44, the trip back to the winner's circle is still on hold.
Toms has 12 PGA Tour victories, including the 2001 PGA Championship, but
hasn't won since the 2006 Sony Open in Hawaii. He's fallen to 75th in the
world rankings, but definitely believes he's on the way back to winning.
"I got nervous a few times out there," acknowledged Toms. "Making that putt on
18, when I had to, just shows that I can still do it when I need to. I think
I'm going to win again soon, and playing great here gives me that confidence."
Paul Goydos, who lost the 2008 Players Championship in a playoff, shot a
three-under 69 in the final round and took third at minus-11. Luke Donald and
Nick Watney both had one-under 71s to share fourth at 10-under 278.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell took the third-round lead Sunday
morning when play was finally completed. In the final round, McDowell
struggled to a seven-over 79 and tied for 33rd at five-under par.
"Just one of those days," said McDowell. "I just didn't have it. Just a bad
day at the office."
Some players finished as many as 31 holes on Sunday and after McDowell sank
down the leaderboard, Toms and Choi became the two men to beat.
Toms flew out of the gate with three birdies in his first six holes. He
bogeyed the par-three eighth and was two strokes in front of Choi at 13-under
Choi kicked in a tap-in birdie putt at the 10th to cut the gap to one, but
missed the first of his short putts at the par-five 11th and made bogey to
fall two behind.
Choi rolled in a 15-footer birdie putt at the 13th to once again get within
one. Toms made a huge 14-foot par putt at 15 to stay in front by one, but then
his watery second at 16 brought the two even.
The wild finish led to Choi's biggest tour win.
"I was very calm, I don't know why," Choi said in a televised interview.
"David Toms was fantastic on the 18th hole. Today, 17 was very important."
Jason Day (68), Hunter Mahan (69), J.B. Holmes (69), Alvaro Quiros (71), Jason
Dufner (72) and Aaron Baddeley (72) shared sixth place at nine-under-par 279.
NOTES: It was the fourth consecutive playoff on the PGA Tour...Choi pocketed
$1.71 million for the win...Phil Mickelson carded an even-par 72 and tied for
33rd at five-under par...Next week is the Crowne Plaza Invitational at
Colonial, the first of a two-week stay in Texas for the PGA Tour. Zach Johnson
won last year's title and is expected to be on hand to defend this year.
05/16 00:02:59 ET