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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – German Martin Kaymer had made some big putts before — one to win a major championship, another to clinch a Ryder Cup victory.

But even Kaymer did not expect his curling, 28½-foot par putt to fall on the famed par-3, 17th island green at TPC Sawgrass.

Kaymer nearly coughed up a three-shot lead over the final four holes Sunday evening at The Players Championship until his unlikely par on No. 17 carried him to a one-shot victory over American Jim Furyk.

Kaymer closed with a 1-under-par 71 for a 13-under 275 total. The 29-year-old earned $1.8 million for his first official victory since he took a European Tour event in November 2011.

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“Obviously, you cannot expect yourself to make that putt,” said Kaymer, a former No. 1-ranked player in the world. “That’s what I said; I just played with a lot of instinct and there was a little bit of luck involved that the ball went in.”

Kaymer striped his drive on the par-4 18th hole to seemingly perfect position, but hit his second shot heavy from 174 yards and had to navigate a 45-foot shot with his putter from the fairway. Left with a little less than 4 feet for the title, Kaymer said he recalled his 8-foot par putt to clinch Europe’s comeback victory at the 2012 Ryder Cup.

“I thought a little about the Ryder Cup, how nice that feeling was and that I’ve done it before,” he recalled.

Kaymer was cruising when thunderstorms swept the course. He returned from a 93-minute delay to embark on a four-hole thrill ride that ended with his biggest victory since the 2010 PGA Championship.

Kaymer made a double-bogey 6 at the 15th hole. That opened the door for Furyk, who hit 16 of 18 greens during 6-under 66.

“I left it all on the golf course, and I hung it all out there today and every cliché you can think of,” Furyk said.

Jordan Spieth (74), who shared the lead with Kaymer entering the final round, tied for fourth at 10 under.

Ryan Moore (73) of Puyallup and Kevin Chappell (69), who owns a house in Kirkland, tied for 26th place at 4 under.

Former Washington Husky Richard H. Lee (73) tied for 65th place at 3 over and Kyle Stanley (77) of Gig Harbor was 71st at 7 over.


• PGA Tour officials rescinded a two-shot penalty given to U.S. Open champion Justin Rose before his final round at The Players, changing their minds to say sophisticated TV technology was the only way to determine his golf ball moved slightly as he prepared to hit a chip shot Saturday.

• England’s Daniel Brooks won a playoff in the Madeira Islands Open, a fog-shortened event overshadowed by the death of a caddie. Ian MacGregor, the 52-year-old caddie for Alastair Forsyth, collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack on the ninth fairway — Forsyth’s final hole.

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