Until his 2017 Masters triumph, Garcia’s highest-visibility win came at the 2008 Players at TPC Sawgrass.
The $1.7 million event drew perhaps the Tour’s strongest fields although Woods, hoping to heal from the lower limb issues that would soon sideline him for a year, chose to rest up for the following month’s U.S. Open.
In Woods’ absence, Garcia dominated. His Thursday 66 propelled him to a quick two-stroke lead over Paul Goydos and Kenny Perry.
Garcia fell back Friday and Saturday, shooting a pair of 73s and starting Sunday’s final round at 212. That was three strokes behind Goydos and two behind Kenny Perry.
Powerful winds gusting as high as 40 mph drove final round scores upward. But Garcia closed strong – sinking putts of 17 and 47 feet on the 12th and 14th — and came to the final hole needing to sink a seven-foot birdie putt to force a tie. He made it. Goydos could have won with a par of his own on 18, but couldn’t pull it off.
The two went to a playoff at the island green 17th, which Garcia won with a four-foot birdie putt. “This feels like a major,” he said. “It tests you like a major.”
Garcia’s four-round total of 283 was 2.62 standard deviations better than the four-round field average, making it his second most dominant win, behind only that masterpiece at the 2001 Buick.