PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- One bad tee shot made Tiger Woods appear vulnerable. One clutch par putt and a critical birdie made him look invincible.
Woods closed out The Players Championship on Sunday like he has so many other tournaments: hitting big shot after big shot down the stretch.
His latest unflappable finish helped him secure his fourth victory of 2013 and capture the richest prize on the PGA Tour for the first time in a dozen years. And at the same time, he pushed his lead in the Official World Golf Ranking to its biggest margin since April of 2010.
Woods moved a whopping 3.22 point ahead of No. 2 Rory McIlroy. Adam Scott held on to third place and Justin Rose stayed in fourth.
The only movement in the top 10 was Brandt Snedeker moving from sixth up to fifth and Luke Donald going form fifth to sixth. Louis Oosthuizen remained seventh, while
Graeme McDowell held on to eighth place. Steve Stricker is still ninth, and Phil Mickelson stuck in 10th place.
The second 10 includes No. 11 Lee Westwood (up from 12th), No. 12 Matt Kuchar (down from 11th), No. 13 Sergio Garcia (up from 15th), No. 14 Keegan Bradley, No. 15 Ian Poulter (down from 13th), No. 16 Webb Simpson (up from 18th), No. 17 Charl Schwartzel (down from 16th), No. 18 Bubba Watson (down from 17th), No. 19 Dustin Johnson and No. 20 Jason Dufner.
''I know a lot of people ... thought I was done,'' said Woods, who has never won four times this early in a season. ''But I'm not.''
This one had to be special. Not only did he win on Mother's Day for the second time in his career and with girlfriend and Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn in attendance, but Woods also won the final showdown against Sergio Garcia after a weekend filled with tense stares and sharp words.
''We just go out there and play,'' said Woods, who earned $1.71 million and pushed his season total to over $5.8 million in just seven tournaments. ''I had an opportunity to win the golf tournament when I was tied for the lead today, and I thought I handled the situation well and really played well today when I really needed to. And that's something I'm excited about.''
Woods allowed the final hour to turn into a tense duel by hooking his tee shot into the water on the par-4 14th hole for double bogey. But his short game bailed him out to save par on the 15th and make a sand-save birdie on the 16th. He was solid on the final two holes for a 2-under 70.
''The shot that turned the tide was the putt on 15,'' Woods said. ''To go double bogey-bogey would have been huge. But to save a putt there and get some momentum going to the next three holes was big.''
Woods was in the scoring trailer when 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.
Woods finished on 13-under 275.
He won The Players for the first time since 2001 and became the fifth multiple winner at TPC 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. He improved to 53-4 in his PGA Tour career when he has at least a share of the lead going into the final round.