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PGA: Ames Dominates Players Championship


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By Erik J. Barzeski via TheSandTrap.com
Stephen Ames' steady 67 definitively claims victory at the TPC of Sawgrass.

stephen_ames_tpc.jpgStephen Ames managed to avoid a train wrecks all week long, never carding back-to-back bogeys. That's more than Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk, Camilo Villegas, Henrik Stenson, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, and Tiger Woods can say. He put on a clinic in the final round, staying steady under pressure and maintaining composure after a double-bogey on the 10th hole. He played with both skill and luck, the latter of which helped him enormously on the 16th hole when his ball took an unnerving bounce but wound up close enough to the pin for him to drain an eagle putt.

Ames definitely deserves the victory, but the real winner this week might be the Tournament Players Course at Sawgrass. Amidst much talk of golf's "fifth major" the Players Championship did not disappoint, providing a course tough enough to try the world's greatest players. Reigning US Open Champion Michael Campbell, Stuart Appleby, Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald, Scott Verplank, Colin Montgomerie, and Daniel Chopra are some of the big names who didn't make it to the weekend - however, none as notably as Davis Love III who was tied for the lead after round one, only to miss the cut with an 83 in round two. He was the first player to accomplish such a feat in tournament history.



This victory holds more perks than just the $1.4 million paycheck for Ames. This victory gets him the most desired invitation in all of golf - a ticket to Augusta National for the Masters. Camilo Villegas almost managed to do the same. The 24 year old Colombian finished one birdie away from his invitation to Augusta after three-putting from what Johnny Miller called "the best shot of the day" - a shot to the par-5 16th from an uphill, sidehill, awkward lie with 220 to the pin. The ball stopped 12 feet from the hole, but Villegas blew his eagle attempt by and missed the come-back, settling for par.



Unlike Camilo, who only got better as the week progressed, Sergio allowed his infamous trait of dropping shots on Sunday to resurface. The Spaniard started the day within striking distance at T2, but would get off to an atrocious start - par-bogey-bogey-double-bogey and never got it going from there. Sergio's putter has been to blame for the last few years and remained so this week, although he looked more comfortable over the ball than last week.



All in all, it was an exciting week. The famous 17th hole provided the closest thing to a roller coaster ride that golf ever gets and the rough was anything but kind. After the course renovations that will take place between now and May of 2007, the course will be even more difficult due to the hard and fast fairways and greens that will be ensured by the enormous course drying equipment being implanted. So we are in for a treat next year as well.



Pos Player R1 R2 R3 R4 Tot
1 Stephen Ames 71 66 70 67 274
2 Retief Goosen 69 71 71 69 280
T3 Pat Perez 71 72 69 71 283
T3 Jim Furyk 65 71 75 72 283
T3 Camilo Villegas 74 70 68 71 283
T3 Henrik Stenson 69 71 70 73 283
7 Jose Maria Olazabal 68 71 74 71 284
T8 Ernie Els 72 70 72 71 285
T8 Vaughn Taylor 73 71 68 73 285
T8 Bo Van Pelt 68 71 72 74 285
T8 John Rollins 68 71 72 74 285
T8 Carl Pettersson 71 70 70 74 285
T8 Vijay Singh 68 70 70 77 285

Photo Credit: © AP.

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