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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Elkington Outpaces Field, Nicklaus


PONTE VEDRA, Florida -- As Steve Elkington walked off the ninth tee after ripping another down-the-middle drive, a rowdy fellow in the crowd raised more than a few eyebrows when he bellowed, "Hey, Steve, how about making a snowman [an 8] and make it interesting?"

Elkington, ahead by five shots at that point Sunday, kept walking, but his caddie, Joe Grillo, wheeled toward the loudmouth and growled: "You ain't got no brains, do you? How about meeting me afterward so I can knock some sense into your head."

That was the closest thing to a tussle all day in the final, mostly snooze-inducing round of The Players Championship.

Distancing himself from his heckler and his closest pursuers, Elkington shot a three-under-par 69 in the final round for a 16-under 272 and a tournament-record seven-stroke, wire-to-wire victory over playing partner Scott Hoch in the richest event on the PGA Tour, against the best field in golf.

Elkington's second triumph of 1997 -- he won at Doral three weeks ago -- earned him $630,000 and a 10-year tour exemption. The 34-year-old Australian's eighth tour victory also vaulted him past Jack Nicklaus to 17th on the tour's all-time money list, with $5,992,126. Nicklaus won 70 times on the PGA Tour, with $5.5 million in official earnings.

"It was an unbelievable day for me," Elkington said. "I must say, leading this tournament from wire to wire is the most difficult thing I've ever had to do in golf. I didn't sleep well last night. I felt nervous at the start. ... My putting was super all week, the best putting performance and the best performance totally since I've played this tour."

John Daly, an admitted alcoholic, withdrew from the Players Championship after a drinking session during which he damaged his hotel room and was hospitalized for chest pains. Daly said he would immediately begin treatment for alcoholism. ()