Nick Price, with those around him fading and failing, shot a 5-under-par 67 Sunday to cruise to a record-setting victory Sunday in the Players Championship.
The PGA champion from Zimbabwe won by five strokes, a wire-to-wire triumph in the 20th anniversary edition of the annual championship of golf's touring pros.Of the 11 men closest to Price's 54-hole lead, only two could break par. One of the most popular and respected men on the U.S. tour, Price won with a 270 total on the TPC at Sawgrass, three strokes better than the course record of 273 set by Mark McCumber in 1988.
The sixth victory of Price's 11-season career on the PGA tour was worth $450,000 from the total purse of $2.5 million, the largest in the world for a full-field event.
It was his fifth triumph in less than 24 months, moving him from fifth to third in the world rankings and confirming his stature as a major threat for next month's Masters.
Bernhard Langer of Germany, with a birdie on the island-green of the par-3 17th, shot a 71 and took second at 275.
"I was always trying to win the tournament, but he just kept making birdies and Greg (Norman) and I just kept struggling to make the putts," Langer said.
Norman, a winner earlier this month, posed the last threat to Price. But Norman's bid failed when his tee shot slipped off the island and into the pond on the 17th.
A bogey-bogey finish left Norman with a par-72, dropping behind Langer and into a tie for third with Gil Morgan at 276.
Morgan, who played more than an hour in front of the other leaders, shot a 65, the best round on a windy day, to surge from 26th place. Mark O'Meara was next at 73-277.
Paul Azinger, Ken Green, Rocco Mediate and Joe Ozaki of Japan followed at 278. Ozaki shot 70, Mediate 71, Green 72 and Azinger 73.
Price led by one at the start of the day. He birdied all four of the par-5 holes and slammed the door to any challengers with a pair of great shots from the banks of fairway bunkers on the fourth and 10th holes.
Price's first birdie-4 came on the second hole and gave him a two-shot advantage. He built it to three with a spectacular shot from an awkward stance in a bunker along the fourth fairway. The probable bogey turned into a birdie when Price sent the ball to within three feet of the flag.
Price played the front in 33, then put himself in trouble again with a drive that drifted onto the bank of another fairway bunker. He had to play his second with the ball at knee-level, but got on the green and two-putted for a valuable par.
With no one able to make a concerted move at him, Price eased home. A birdie from about 7 feet on the par-5 16th gave him a five-shot lead with two holes to play.
Bob Charles had an eagle and birdie on two of the last three holes for a 69 Sunday and a one-shot victory over Jim Ferree in the Senior PGA Doug Sanders Celebrity Classic.
The victory, his first of the year and 19th overall on the Senior Tour, was worth $75,000 as he shot an 8-under 208 for three rounds at the 6,747-yard, par-72 Deerwood Club course in suburban Houston.
Bob Murphy, making just his third start on the Senior Tour, shot a 70 Sunday to finish two shots back at 210 along with Harold Henning and Mike Hill, who won the Sanders tourney the previous two years.
Helen Alfredsson of Sweden, the LPGA's 1992 rookie of the year, shot an even-par 72 for a 2-stroke victory in the Dinah Shore tournament in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Sunday.
Alfredsson, who earned $105,000 for her first victory in the United States, finished with a 4-under 284 total on Mission Hills' 6,437-yard Old Course. Amy Benz , Tina Barrett and Betsy King tied for second.