David Lingmerth nearly pulled it off

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Besides Tiger Woods winning his second Players Championship on Sunday, his fourth victory of the year, the biggest story on the golf course this week was the performance of the 25-year-old Swedish rookie, David Lingmerth, who finished in a tie for second with a final-round even-par 72.

The former Arkansas Razorback had a chance to tie Tiger Woods at 13-under with a birdie at the 18th hole, but he would make a bogey.

Still, it was the best performance ever for a rookie in the 40-year history of the tournament.

"It was a great week overall," Lingmerth said. "I'm in it to win it. I felt like I had a good couple of chances there toward the end, and just didn't putt very well."

Lingmerth, who started the final round in a tie for the lead with Sergio Garcia and Woods, played almost a perfect front nine from tee to green, but didn't hole several makeable birdie putts. On the back nine, he handled himself like a veteran. After Garcia hit his tee shot into the water at the 17th, Lingmerth, unnerved, hit his iron shot to 7 feet, but he failed to make the putt.

It would not have been a surprise to see him win. Last week in Charlotte, another little-known rookie with a thin résumé named Derek Ernst took his first tour title. Before that win, Ernst had made less than $30,000 in earnings on the season.

Lingmerth had missed five cuts in a row coming into The Players and had not finished better than a tie for 50th since he lost in a playoff at the Humana Challenge in January.

If there was ever any question about the depth on the PGA Tour, Lingmerth's showing proves that anybody with playing privileges out here can win in any given week. It also validates the idea that the biggest events should have large fields.

A player with Lingmerth's standing would not have made the 90-man field at the Masters or some of the select tournaments that are determined by world rankings. He was one of the last players to make it into the 145-man field at The Players, and he made the most of the opportunity.

"I've never been in that position before," said Lingmerth, who came into the week ranked 162nd in the world. "I've been atop the leaderboard at Humana, but I don't think the field was nearly as strong as it was this week.

"And a lot of the big names were up on the leaderboard, so it's fun to contend with those guys. And I felt comfortable out there all day and all week. If I get a chance again, I hope I can take it to another level."