Martin Kaymer never lost sight of opportunity even amid so much evidence of trouble in the closing stretch Sunday at The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
A bad chip led to double bogey. A bad decision cost him a chance at birdie. With his lead suddenly down to one shot, he watched his ball soar against the gray sky toward the scariest island in golf and figured it would be fine.
What followed was a bounce sideways instead of forward, a mystifying spin that nearly sent his ball over the edge and into the drink, a chip with his feet pressed near the wooden frame of the island, and a 30-foot par putt that Kaymer chalked up to instinct and luck.
"It was a very strange way to make 3," he said.
But it was enough to carry the 29-year-old German to a one-shot victory over Jim Furyk in a final round filled with stress, emotion and a large dose of satisfaction.
Kaymer got up-and-down with his putter from short of the 18th green for one last par, giving him a 1-under 71 and his first victory in nearly 18 months. His 13-under 275 total earned him $1.8 million.
The only time he nearly lost his composure was when talking about his mother, Rina, who died of cancer six years ago. He has a sunflower, her favorite flower, on his golf bag.
"To win on Mother's Day ... we show our parents way too little," he said. "We always need some occasions to show them, which is what you realize when they're not there anymore."
Furyk closed with a 66, having to wait out a 90-minute rain delay to make a 3-foot par putt. It looked as though it might be enough to force a playoff, or even win outright when Kaymer started to struggle.
Sergio Garcia (70) finished alone in third, though he never got within two shots of the lead at any point.
European Tour: Daniel Brooks made par on the first playoff hole to win the fog-shortened Madeira Islands Open in Santo Da Serra, which was overshadowed by the death of a caddie earlier in the day.
Some European Tour members said the tournament should have been stopped after Ian MacGregor, the 52-year-old Zimbabwe-born caddie to Scotland's Alastair Forsyth, collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack on the ninth fairway -- Forsyth's final hole.
"Can't believe they are going to keep playing in Madeira," Pablo Larrazabal, who was not in the tournament, wrote on Twitter. "Life is more important than golf."
However, European Tour officials said they had consulted with players and caddies before deciding to play on. Forsyth said it was the right decision. "I felt that was what Mac would have wanted," Forsyth said.