By Mark Lamport-Stokes
PONTE VEDRA BEACH Florida (Reuters) - Martin Kaymer's one-shot victory at the Players Championship on Sunday will be remembered most for his extraordinary par three on the island green at the infamous 17th hole.
Kaymer held a one-stroke lead at the TPC Sawgrass when his tee shot on 17 narrowly cleared the water, bounced off a mound and span sideways hard until settling just a couple of feet short of the water on the fringe of the green.
From there, Kaymer, looking for first victory since the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa at the end of 2012, hit a poor chip and was left with a 28-foot putt which had to negotiate a ridge with a sharp left-to-right break.
Somehow he managed to coax the ball into the cup in fading light before going on to par the final hole and clinch victory by one shot over American Jim Furyk in the $10 million PGA Tour event.
"What a putt on 17," Kaymer told reporters with a broad grin after closing with a one-under-par 71 for a 13-under total of 275. "It was very, very tough to read because it was already very dark. But I don't care anymore, it went in.
"It was downhill, down-grain, but at the end of the day, you just trust your instinct. You pick a line approximately there and there. It was three-and-a-half feet (of break), left-to-right putt, but you need the right line and the right speed.
"So there's always some luck involved, but it was a good putt. I don't care anymore, it went in. It's all good."
Kaymer felt that he was unfortunate with his tee shot on 17 after finding that he was in between a pitching wedge and a gap wedge for the ideal yardage.
"Under those circumstances, you take the shorter one and I put a solid swing on it," said the 29-year-old. "I thought I did, but it was, I think, a yard short. I was very surprised that it was not even on the green.
"It was a very awkward chip from that Bermuda grass, close to the water. Yeah, it was a very strange way to make a three."
Kaymer sank a nerve-jangling six-foot putt at Medinah in 2012 to ensure that the Ryder Cup remained in European hands, and he was reminded of that achievement by the monster par putt on Sunday.
"Making a putt like this is more than big, I think I will realize it the next few days," he said. "Making those putts in those situations is quite impressive, you know.
"It gives me a lot of belief and a lot of confidence that I can make those putts. I've done it in the past, and today again, it's a great feeling."
Kaymer's only other victory on the PGA Tour came at a major when he won the 2010 PGA Championship in a playoff. He ranked his Players triumph on Sunday not far behind.
"It is probably the biggest tournament we play all year, except the majors," he said of the Players, which is widely regarded as the unofficial fifth major.
"It's the biggest (strongest) field. It's a tough golf course, a very tough week, and very difficult to beat all of those guys. Pressure-wise I can compare it to the PGA Championship, the playoff that I played.
"It means that you have done very well for four days, played very consistent golf. And I played very patient and so it's a big, big trophy and a big achievement for me."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)