Rory McIlroy had seen this before.
After a double bogey on the fourth hole, the final round of The Players Championship had the feel of so many other tournaments this season when the 29-year-old from Northern Ireland had played well for three rounds but struggled when the championship was on the line.
However, McIlroy was unwilling to buy into that scenario. He steadied himself after a one-over 37 on the front nine, and he fired a three-under 33 on the back nine for a final-round score of 70. That two-under-par round enabled McIlroy to win The Players Championship for the first time in his career as he finished the tournament as the top name on the leaderboard with a score of 16 under 272.
McIlroy was one stroke better than 48-year-old Jim Furyk, who posted a final round of 67 and a 15-under 273. The veteran had an excellent chance to win the tournament after he birdied the finishing 18th hole, but McIlroy birdied the 15th and 16th holes to get to 16 under and take the one-stroke lead that ended up as the winning margin.
McIlroy faced the challenge of the island green at No. 17, and he calmly stepped up and put the ball on the green and made his par. The 18th hole is largely considered the most difficult hole at TPC Sawgrass, and he drilled his drive straight down the middle and was about 14 feet away after a stellar approach shot. He used two putts to par the hole and earned $2.25 million for his triumph.
McIlroy spoke with NBC's Steve Sands after the round and explained that he felt it was simply his time after having been close but failing on a number of occasions in the final round this season:
"I think it was all the experiences I had throughout the year. I felt more comfortable each tournament, and I stayed as patient as I possibly could, and even though I didn't play well early, I was pleasantly surprised to see I had not fallen two or three strokes behind.
"It's so tough to win. This was probably the deepest field of the year, and I am just glad it was my turn."
Furyk's second-place finish gave him a payday of $1.35 million, and he was happy with the way he played throughout the tournament in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
"I treated playing in the tournament as an opportunity," Furyk told Sands. "I was playing as aggressively as I could, and I left it all out on the course. I'm happy with the way I played."
Eddie Pepperell charged to a third-place tie after closing the tournament with a final round of 66. That allowed the British golfer to take home a paycheck of $725,000, the same amount as Jhonattan Vegas, who also shot a 66 in the final round.
Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Tommy Fleetwood tied for fifth place with a score of 13 under 275. Those three golfers earned $456,250 each for their triumphs.
The Players Championship delivered a purse of $12.5 million, $1.5 million more than it was in 2018.
Here's how the purse paid out for the top 10 finishers, along with the link for the top 70 spots:
Players Championship Payout Breakdown (per Golf.com)
Jon Rahm had the lead after three rounds and appeared to be in an excellent position to win the so-called fifth major after his eight-under-par 64 Saturday. However, after remaining calm and cool on moving day, Rahm had a difficult time with his consistency, shot making and strategy and shot a disappointing 76 in the final round.
Fleetwood had played sensational golf the first two rounds of the tournament, and he was a co-leader after 36 holes. He was not at his best Saturday or Sunday but still gave himself a chance with a sensational eagle on the 16th hole that allowed him to get to 14 under.
He knew he had more work to do and went for the flag on the island green at No. 17. His shot found the water, and that ended his opportunity to gain his first triumph on North American soil.
Dustin Johnson seemingly had one of the most consistent tournaments, with rounds of 69-68-69-69 that led to his 13-under-par finish. However, Johnson missed a number of birdie opportunities all four days, and he could have tied or passed McIlroy had he been on his game with the flat stick.
McIlroy has set the tone for the 2018-19 golf season with this triumph in The Players Championship. He has moved into the lead in FedEx points, and he will undoubtedly have a lot to say about the Masters outcome in April.