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Golf Today > Asian Golf > Tour Schedules > 2008 Asian Tour > Barclays Singapore Open > Round 4


Jeev holds off major champions for victory

India’s Jeev Milkha Singh held off the combined challenges of Major champions Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els to triumph in the US$5 million Barclays Singapore Open by one stroke on Sunday.

Singh’s stunning victory, courtesy of a gutsy final round of two-under-par 69, also virtually sealed a second Asian Tour’s Order of Merit title in three years as he made history by becoming the first player to surpass US$1 million in earnings in a single season.

Harrington, who won the British Open and PGA Championship titles this year, fought like the champion that he is at Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong course but settled for second place after a 70, missing a five-foot birdie chance on 18 to force a play-off.

Els also missed a 15-foot birdie chance at the last for a 71 as he settled for his second runner-up finish at the Barclays Singapore Open, which is Asia’s richest national Open.

Third round leader Chapchai Nirat of Thailand, who led by three strokes going into the final 18 holes, finished tied seventh after closing with a disappointing 78 while world number three Phil Mickelson came in ninth after a 75.

Singh’s sixth Asian Tour victory, worth a cool US$792,500, raised his season’s tally to US$1.4 million, which opened up a gap of nearly US$655,000 from previous leader Mark Brown of New Zealand, who missed the cut here.

“I could not have asked for more honestly – I think I am a very fortunate man to win, those boys put a good effort out there, Ernie and Padraig. The golfing gods are on my side so I am breathing much better now,” said Singh, who won a tournament in Europe and Japan earlier this year.

Starting the final round five strokes back, Singh charged up the leaderboard with an outward 33 and birdied the 11th hole to take charge of the tournament. Bogeys on 13 and 16 set up a tense finish but his rivals failed to take advantage of his late blemishes.

“I saw that I had a one-shot lead coming to the last. I was not hitting my driver that well so I took a three wood – at least confirm a five and if you make a four great. I was fortunate the other guys did not make a four. I am happy,” said Singh.

Harrington, playing alongside Singh in the third to last grouping, was hoping to end his final event of the season on a winning note and kept up with the Indian with an outward 33 as well. But a costly double bogey six on the 16th dashed his hopes after his approach hit the green but agonisingly rolled into a watery grave. He had a chance to birdie 18 from close range but missed the chance.

“I had a couple of good chances at the end. But I wouldn’t say that cost me. I had a couple of good breaks earlier on and I was able to hold it together. The shot to 16 for the double bogey was unlucky and I hit a lovely shot into the last and I was six inches away from having a chance for eagle,” said the world number five.

“I’ve holed some great putts at the right time this year. I’m not going to feel good about this one for the next couple of hours but when I look back at my year I won’t find it too bad. I’m delighted for Jeev.”

Els was one over for the round through 12 but a 20-foot birdie on 16 kept him in the title hunt. However, a poor drive on 18 left him with an outside chance for birdie at the last which he missed from 15 feet.

“I missed a putt on 15, which I thought was going in. Made one on 16 and 17 looked like it was going in but it didn’t and 18 was unbelievable. The gods were not with me. They all looked like they were going in,” said Els.

“It could have been a win. But Jeev is a great guy and I’m happy for him,” said the big South African.

“I was trying to make the putt on 18 but maybe I hit it a bit too soft. It shows that golf is just a game of inches. It could have stayed straight and I’m in the play-off. I’m just disappointed right now.”

Singh is expected to move back into the world’s top-50 with his third win of the season, which will come with an invite back to the US Masters. The Indian, who is already exempt in the other three Majors through his finish in Europe, is also poised to win the prestigious Asian Tour Order of Merit where Brown only has a mathematical chance to dislodge him, but would need to win the remaining four tournaments of the season.

“It is great. There are too many landmarks! I do not really know what to say. At the end of the day you just want to play good golf and if these things come your way it is fantastic,” said the 36-year-old Indian.

Leading final round scores (click here for final leaderboard and prize money):

277 - Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 73-68-67-69
278 - Padraig Harrington (IRL) 72-70-66-70, Ernie Els (RSA) 66-70-71-71
279 - David Gleeson (AUS) 72-67-71-69, Rory Mcilroy (NIR) 70-68-72-69
280 - Charlie Wi (KOR) 70-71-67-72
281 - Thomas Bjorn (DEN) 72-67-68-74, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 70-68-65-78
282 - Phil Mickelson (USA) 73-68-66-75
283 - Mitchell Brown (AUS) 70-70-71-72, Somkiat Srisanga (THA) 71-71-70-71, Simon Dyson (ENG) 69-67-71-76
284 - Ted Oh (KOR) 76-68-69-71, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 76-67-70-71, Kim Kyung-tae (KOR) 69-75-67-73, Scott Strange (AUS) 71-71-69-73, Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 71-69-69-75
285 - Darren Clarke (NIR) 73-71-71-70, James Kingston (RSA) 72-71-71-71, Lam Chih Bing (SIN) 67-71-68-79

November 16, 2008


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