Fred Funk, a 48-year-old with one victory in the last seven years, has become the oldest-ever winner of golf's richest event.
Funk captured the #4.5million Players Championship by getting up and down from a greenside bunker at the last - and was able to start celebrating a remarkable victory minutes later when England's Luke Donald agonisingly missed his 22-foot birdie attempt from just over the back of the green.
"I am speechless right now," said Funk, who last September became the oldest ever debutant in the Ryder Cup.
"I didn't fathom this happening and I'm just so excited. I can't believe I won this thing - I'm overwhelmed."
After a weekend wrecked by rain, the tournament went into a fifth day with 33 holes still to play and the field then had to battle with 35mph gusts.
It turned the Sawgrass course into a real beast, Bob Tway even taking a tournament record 12 on the island green 17th and Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood running up quadruple bogey sevens - Westwood when still in contention in the third round.
Funk got out of the hole with a three and a four, but his heart was in his mouth when his six-iron second to the 72nd and final hole flirted with the lake left of the green.
"It scared me to death," he said. But the ball clung on to finish in sand, and by saving par all the pressure was on Donald.
Third round leader after a morning 70, the 27-year-old from High Wycombe could not maintain that standard, but even at four over for the next 17 holes he still had a chance of the #774,193 top prize with one remaining.
Nobody had birdied the 447-yard 18th all day, however, and though he came closer than just about anybody else it was not to be and Sandy Lyle remains the only European to have won this title.
That was back in 1987 and since then Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Padraig Harrington (twice) and now Donald have all been runners-up.
Funk, who lives close by and had to dash to the course during the week after going home for a sleep during a rain break, was supported by fans known as "Funk's Punks".
He gave them a hard time by three-putting three times on the back nine, but when it mattered most he made the five-footer on the last for a 71 and nine under par total of 279.
Donald, finishing with a disappointing 76, shared second spot with American Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman and Scott Verplank. Lehman fired a brilliant closing 68, but Verplank bogeyed the last for a 70.
Westwood finished 22nd and Faldo 27th, while Graeme McDowell, in the hunt until he took a double bogey seven midway through his third round, was 40th and both Harrington and Darren Clarke 63rd.
As for the big guns, world number one Vijay Singh did best, but he was only joint 12th. Ernie Els was 17th, Mickelson 40th and Tiger Woods an also-ran at 53rd.
It was a day then the "Fab Four" were pushed aside by the "Fab Funk."
The third round had also been wild and, from a spectator's point of view, wonderful - and there was nothing to compare to Tway's adventure.
The former US PGA champion put four balls in the water - two over the green, two short of it - and then, having finally found dry land with his fifth attempt, three-putted from 42 feet.
He was joint 10th at the time, but fell instantly to two over par and joint 72nd.
His score beat by one the tournament record for the hole, set by Robert Gamez in 1990, and equalled the 12 by the little-known Phillip Hancock at the 384-yard fourth in 1985.
Even without the wind Tway had taken a bogey four on the 17th in the first round and put two balls in the drink for a triple bogey in the second, making him 13 over par for the hole and 11 under for the other 17.
Take it out of the equation he would have been right in the thick of it, but far from being able to take it out of the equation he had to play it again later in the day.
It will come as no comfort to him that he was still a long way from the highest score that the 17th has ever seen.
In 1985 Angelo Spagnolo, a 31-year-old grocery store manager, played there in the "America's Worst Golfer" contest. He put 27 balls in the water before being told by officials to putt round the lake and over the narrow path to the green.
He finished with a card-wrecking 66 and after negotiating the difficult 18th handed in a round of 257. Not surprisingly, he won the title.
Funk's victory - a year after Adam Scott became the youngest-ever winner - was somewhat different.
Donald said: "I'm proud I gave myself a chance, but I don't know too many people who have made birdie there today.
"It's a tough enough hole without any wind. I hit a great shot (a 188-yard four-iron) and it pitched maybe four feet to the right of the hole, but unfortunately it just caught the run-off.
"If someone had offered me tied second I'd have said 'Yes', especially with my track record here - two missed cuts. But I wouldn't have taken it going into the last round and it's disappointing leading and not winning."