KJ Choi Wins Players Championship at Sawgrass as Graeme McDowell implodes

KJ Choi became the first Asian golfer to win the Players Championship at Sawgrass beating American David Toms in a play-off.  Choi & Toms, the 2001 USPGA champion, both finished on 13 under but Toms three-putted the short 17th in the first sudden-death play-off hole, while KJ  Choi made par.

Graeme McDowell had an abysmal final round at the Players Championship at Sawgrass in the United States, yesterday. The way he capitulated after leading by one shot going into the final round, was reminiscent of how fellow countryman, Rory McIlroy fell apart in last month’s US Masters.

McDowell never recovered from spraying his tee shot off the first tee and went on to score 79, five over.McDowell was honest in defeat when he told reporters:

“To be honest I felt I ran out of steam a little bit,” said US Open champion McDowell. “After bogeys on six and seven I felt the energy sucked right out of me. I went flat and everything I tried to do went a little wrong.”

McDowell went on to say: “This is going to hurt for a few hours, but we will move on”.

This is KJ Choi’s eighth victory in the United States, more than any other Asian golfer.

“For some reason I felt so comfortable out there,” said Choi. “The swing I have right now just doesn’t break down under pressure situations.

“I was able to be precise and aggressive and keep my rhythm together and that is what brought this performance.”

The Players Championship 2011 at Sawgrass

1st KJ Choi (South Korea) -13
2nd D Toms (United States) -13
3rd P Goydos (United States) -11
4th: L Donald (England), N Watney (United States) -10
6th: J Day (Australia), H Mahan (United States), JB Holmes (United States), A Quiros (Spain), J Dufner (United States), A Baddeley (Australia) -9



Henrik Stenson Wins Players Championship

Henrik Stenson became only the third European golfer to win the US PGA flagship event, The Players Championship in Sawgrass, last night with an excellent 12 under par. The other European winners were Sandy Lyle (1987) and Sergio Garcia (2008).

The 33 year-old Swede was joint second with Ian Poulter and Tiger Woods going into the final round,  five shots behind German Alex Cejka.  But Cejka had a disastrous start to his fourth round and never recovered his game, leaving the door wide open for the chasing pack.

Stenson hit six birdies in a very impressive final round to finish on 66 (-12) and it was only this amazing score that stopped Ian Poulter from winning the title.  Poulter finished second with a solid round of 70, leaving him 8 under.

I’m sure plenty of bets were placed on Tiger Woods to win another tournament after round 3.  But like Cejka he had a disappointing final round of 79 to finish in eighth place overall on 5 under.

Tiger Woods has failed to find consistency over four rounds since returning in February after eight months out with a knee injury.  But both Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter continue to move up the world rankings and are both looking to cement their positions with a majors victory in 2009.

Henrik Stenson is a good, solid, consistent golfer.  But I love Ian Poulter’s cockiness and flambuoyant personality.  Like snooker’s Ronnie O’Sullivan, Poulter brings excitement and cool to the game.

Poulter stood up to the extra publicity he received as Nick Faldo’s controversial Captain’s Pick for last year’s Ryder Cup team and appears to be cementing his place as one of the best golfers in the world.

The next step is for Ian Poulter to win a major; and the way he’s playing right now, this could be his year.