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Choi Edges Toms in Players Championship


On a long Sunday at TPC Sawgrass due to bad weather that postponed the third round, K.J. Choi and David Toms ended up tied in regulation at 13-under 275 in the Players Championship. On the first playoff hole, the famed par-3 17th with the island green at the Pete Dye-designed course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the South Korean got a par to Toms' bogey.

Both players posted 2-under 70s in the final round. Because of the rain-delayed third round, Toms had to play 32 holes Sunday and Choi 27. On the playoff hole, Choi two-putted for par, while the 44-year-old Toms three-putted from 18 feet.

Toms said later he knew he to hit his uphill, two-and-a-half-foot par putt solidly, but admitted later he didn't execute the stroke properly. "I kind of hit it on the toe and didn't get it rolling, and when I looked up it was left," he said. "It was just a bad putt. No excuses, no spike marks, no ball marks, no nothing. Maybe a lot of pressure. But other than that, there was no excuse."

Choi became the first Asian player ever to win golf's so-called "fifth major." The victory was worth $1.71 million and 600 FedEx Cup points.

Toms made it into the playoff with a clutch birdie on the 72nd hole that caused the gallery to erupt. But Choi said later he was mentally prepared for such a challenge. "When I started my day today, one thing that I told myself that I needed to do was not to get swept away by the cheers of the crowd, of the gallery, not to get swept away by the pressure, by how my other players were doing.

"When David Toms made that putt on the 18th for birdie, it was as loud as something you'd hear at the Masters, someone holing an important putt at the Masters," added Choi, who notched his eighth win on the PGA Tour.

"So that's what I said to myself, and I felt very comfortable with the whole situation, with the whole environment throughout the day. There were going to be a lot of gallery that's going to be cheering for David, but I expected it, so it wasn't a big issue for me.

"Today I missed a lot of five-footers, probably about three or four, and it's because I didn't read the lines very correctly. So when I had the same five-footer to make, I knew that there was a chance that I could miss it. But what I said to myself was let's just get the rhythm correct, and I prayed to the Lord to help me focus and to find my rhythm.

"You know, if I were to putt well on the 17th at the playoff, there was a chance David would make that putt, too, and we'd go into 18. But I felt comfortable. I felt comfortable playing those two holes."

Paul Goydos finished alone in third at 11-under 277 after a 69, while tied for fourth at 278 were Luke Donald and Nick Watney, who both shot 71s in the final round.

Graeme McDowell emerged from the rain-delayed third round as the tournament leader, but the Northern Irishman shot a 7-over 79 to plummet into a tie for 33rd at 5-under 283.

"Long day out there'" said the reigning U.S. Open champion. "I just couldn't seem to get any momentum. You need a little momentum out there, and I couldn't seem to read the grain. I wasn't reading the greens the way I've been reading them. Couldn't hole anything. It was just a bad day at the office."

The low round Sunday was posted by Sergio Garcia, who had a 7-under 65 that included six birdies, a bogey and an eagle on the par-5 16th hole. The Spaniard ended up in a tie for 12th at 8-under 280.