"It's always nice to have a chance at beating the No. 1 player in the world, but unfortunately for me, I wasn't able to this week," Garcia said.
Woods was in the scoring trailer when he watched on TV as Swedish rookie David Lingmerth missed a long birdie putt that would have forced a playoff. It raced by the cup, and Lingmerth three-putted for bogey.
"How about that?" Woods said to his caddie, Joe LaCava as he gave him a hug.
Woods finished on 13-under 275.
He won The Players for the first time since 2001 and became the fifth multiple winner at Sawgrass since The Players moved to this former swamp in 1982. It was his 78th career win on the PGA Tour, four short of the record held by Sam Snead. And it was his first time winning with his girlfriend, Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn, at the tournament.
Lingmerth closed with a 72 and finished two shots behind along with Kevin Streelman (67) and Jeff Maggert, who also was tied for the lead until finding the water on the 17th to make double bogey. The 49-year-old Maggert birdied the 18th for a 70.
Garcia took 13 shots to cover the final two holes — 6-over par — and tumbled into a tie for eighth.
There was a four-way tie for the lead after Woods made his double bogey, and the infamous 17th green took out Maggert and Garcia. After Garcia went into the water twice, Lingmerth missed an 8-foot birdie putt that would have tied him for the lead.
Given their public sniping at each other over the weekend, it was only fitting that Garcia had the best chance to beat Woods.
Their dispute started Saturday when Garcia complained in a TV interview that his shot from the par-5 second fairway was disrupted by cheers from the crowd around Woods, who was some 50 yards away in the trees and fired them up by taking a fairway metal out of his bag. He said Woods should have been paying attention, and it became a war of the words the next two days.