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Tiger needles Sergio: It's nice to rise to the occasion

ESPN staff
May 13, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »

Tiger Woods aimed a veiled barb at Sergio Garcia after winning the Players Championship on Sunday - saying it was exciting to "play well when he really needed to" to claim the tournament.

Woods, the world No. 1, clinched his second TPC Sawgrass title after an exciting back nine at the weekend - securing victory after co-leader Garcia put two balls in the water at the scenic par-three 17th.

The pair, who are known not to get on, were involved in a spat while paired together on Saturday - with Garcia accusing the American of a lack of respect after an incident at the second hole.

Asked whether it gave him extra satisfaction to defeat Garcia, Woods - who has 14 majors to the Spaniard's zero - could not resist noting that he rose to the occasion at the business end of the tournament yet again.

"We just go out there and play," Woods said afterwards. "I had an opportunity to win the golf tournament when I was tied for the lead today, and I thought I handled the situation well and really played well today and when I really needed to, and that's something I'm excited about."

Woods could well have been pipped to the title by Garcia, had the Spaniard not suffered his meltdown at the tournament's 71st hole. Going straight at a tight-right pin at the 17th, Garcia dumped two balls in the water to fall out of a tie for the lead - with an eventual quadruple bogey seven destroying any hopes he had of victory.

"I just under hit it a little bit," Garcia said of his tee-shot at the 17th. "I felt with a little bit of adrenaline and stuff I didn't want to shoot over the green with a wedge.

"Just needed to hit it a little bit harder, maybe [I was] a little too confident. I mean, that hole has been good to me for the most part. Today it wasn't. That's the way it is. That's the kind of hole it is. You've got to love it for what it is."

Woods hit his approach at the same hole to the centre of the green, moments before Garcia's demise - and noted afterwards that caution is always the better part of valour with that particular hole.

"It was 130 [yards] to carry [the water], and then seven more," he said. "The thing is you can get baited into hitting it over there [at the pin], and that's the hard part.

"You have a simple little wedge in your hand, but if you happen to stick it in the ground with a left to right wind, it's not coming back. I thought that the prudent play for me was to hit it in the centre of the green, even left centre."

Woods has now won four times in seven starts on the PGA Tour in 2013, but his year will ultimately be measured by his major championship results. With the US Open just a few weeks away - at a course, Merion, that Woods has never played before - he is hopeful he will be able to play the same controlled golf he produced at the Players.

"I've never played Merion. It sounds good in theory," Woods joked, when asked about using that strategy again. "I don't know.

"This week I'm hitting three wood over 300 yards. This five-wood I was hitting most of the week was going 280 and I was carrying it easily 260. Those are big numbers.

"We happened to get a dry, hot week where the ball was travelling. You've got to play the golf course for what it gives you. Certain years it's soft and it's wet, and I hit a lot of drivers. This is one of the weeks where I didn't."

World rankings: 1. Tiger Woods (USA), 2. Rory McIlroy (NIR), 3. Adam Scott (AUS), 4. Justin Rose (ENG), 5. Brandt Snedeker (USA), 6. Luke Donald (ENG), 7. Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), 8. Graeme McDowell (NIR), 9. Steve Stricker (USA), 10. Phil Mickelson (USA), 11. Lee Westwood (ENG), 12. Matt Kuchar (USA), 13. Sergio Garcia (ESP), 14. Keegan Bradley (USA), 15. Ian Poulter (ENG), 16. Webb Simpson (USA), 17. Charl Schwartzel (RSA), 18. Bubba Watson (USA), 19. Dustin Johnson (USA), 20. Jason Dufner (USA).

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