Sunday's Golf Capsules
Monday, May 14, 2012
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The only complaint about Matt Kuchar was not winning enough. He picked up a big one Sunday at The Players Championship.
Kuchar avoided the big mistakes that slowed so many other contenders — starting with Kevin Na — and kept it out of the water on the TPC Sawgrass. He closed with a 2-under 70 for a two-shot victory.
That famous smile, which he first showed the golf world as an amateur in 1998 competing on the biggest stages, was brighter than ever as Kuchar tapped in for par. He celebrated on the 18th green with his wife and two sons, and shared a hug and a high-five with his mother.
Along with the pressure of trying to win, Na had to put up with some heckling. Already considered a slow player, he struggles to take the club back without practice swings and waggles, and over the ball he could hear fans saying, "Pull the trigger" or "Hit it."
Kuchar won for only the fourth time in his career, and the first time since the 2010 Barclays when Martin Laird three-putted the last hole and lost in a playoff.
Kuchar finished on 13-under 275 and earned $1.71 million, the largest payoff in golf. He goes to career-best No. 5 in the world ranking, and more importantly, to No. 3 in the Ryder Cup standings.
Laird made the strongest run on a cloudy, breezy afternoon, tying for the lead with his third straight birdie on No. 12. He shot a 67 and wound up in a four-way tie for second.
Rickie Fowler, going for his second straight win, missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the 18th and shot 70. Ben Curtis made a 10-foot birdie on the 18th for a 68, while Zach Johnson shot 68 to join the tie for second.
Luke Donald sixth after a 66, not quite enough to replace Rory McIlroy at No. 1 in the world.
Tiger Woods shot 40 on his front nine and rallied for a 73, at least finishing The Players Championship under par. That was the smallest of consolations. Far more alarming was that he tied for 40th, the first time in his career that he has finished no better than 40th in three straight tournaments. The streak began after a five-shot win at Bay Hill for his first PGA Tour title in 30 months.
Na had a three-shot lead early in the final round with a birdie on No. 2, but he fell apart quickly. There were waggles and a few whiffs as part of his painful pre-shot routine, but there were far too many shots in the wrong spot for him to have a chance. He made four bogeys in five holes to close out the front nine in 39, and his hopes ended with a tee shot into the water on the par-3 13th.
Na closed with a 76 to tie for seventh, five shots behind.
MADEIRA ISLANDS OPEN
SANTO DA SERRA, Madeira Islands (AP) — Ricardo Santos shot a 9-under 63 to win the Madeira Islands Open by four strokes, becoming the first Portuguese-born player to win a European Tour event in his home country.
Santos rallied from four strokes down and birdied his closing three holes to set a championship record of 22 under on the Santa da Serra course. Sweden's Magnus Carlsson shot a 67 to finish second.
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean about 400 miles west of Morocco.
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