The Players Championship: Scotty Scheffler becomes first to defend 'fifth major' after crucial putt lips off Wyndham Clarke

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Scotty Scheffler celebrates with the trophy after winning the 50th Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.



CNN

Wyndham Clark He thought his ball was in. TPC Sawgrass I thought it was inside. As it rolled around the cup, some of it was actually inside.

Yet somehow, someway, the Birdies put in the effort to force the American star to world No. 1 Scotty Scheffler A playoff exit, crowning his teammates with back-to-back winners for the first time Players Championship.

Overcoming a five-stroke deficit, Scheffler mounted an impressive Sunday charge to defend his crown by the narrowest margin in Florida, ripping the Stadium Course for an eight-under 64 — tied for the tournament's lowest round — and a 20-under stroke total to win.

Triumph in the 50th edition of the PGA Tour's flagship event gave the 25-year-old a $4.5 million winner's purse of $25 million.

It was his eighth win on the PGA Tour and second in as many days A dominant win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekScheffler's place as a dominant force in the men's game was further cemented by his unprecedented defense of golf's 'fifth major'.

“It's something you don't get a chance to do very often,” he told reporters.

“It's very difficult to beat a player, so to have it again and again is very special. Thank you indeed.”

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Scheffler lines up a putt on the 18th green during his final round.

Scheffler made it easy Commanded a five-shot victory a year agoBut he had to endure a lot of pressure from his rivals – and even his own body – to repeat the feat.

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The world No. 1 suffered neck pain in the second round on Friday and received mid-match treatment from a physiotherapist.

His swing suffered so badly that Scheffler wondered if he would be able to continue playing, but was sure to shoot 69 and 68 before his final round flourish.

“I'm a pretty competitive guy, and I don't want to give up on competition,” Scheffler said Sunday.

“I did what I could until my neck got better. Today it felt really good. Marnus [physio] Made me go, gave me a massage and did a great job, I was very grateful.

US Open winner and world no. Clarke, seeded 5th, was forced to settle for second place with fellow Americans Brian Harman and Xander Schaffel.

All three came within a stroke of needing a birdie to make a playoff on the final tee, but Harman, the Open champion and world no. 6 Schaffel came within a few millimeters of Scheffler, and Clarke came within millimeters.

From over 16 feet, the 30-year-old timed his birdie attempt perfectly. After a few minutes of disbelief, he was even tapping.

Lynn Zlatky/AP

Clark reacts to his painful missed putt.

Back in the clubhouse, Clark was racking his brain about how he didn't finish with a 68.

“I don't know how that putt didn't go in,” Clark said.

“It was a right center like a foot, and I knew it was going to break, but it had speed and I thought it was going to go in to the left. I thought it was going to lip, even though it was kind of on the lips.

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It was another interesting week for Farm Clerk He broke the course record en route to being declared the winner Last month's storm-ravaged Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California — that's not an instant consolation.

Maybe sometime next week I can actually look at those positives and feel better about it, but right now I'm just so tired,” he said.

“Obviously there are positives to it. You finish second, you get points and money and all that stuff, but it sucks. I've always dreamed of making a putt that's so important to win a playoff or a tournament, and I've never done that in my career. So I was very sad that I didn't have one of those. Really amazing moments.

“I'm a little closer.”

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