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Lee Westwood coasts to Nedbank title defence
December 4, 2011

Defending champion Lee Westwood held off the rest of the field to win the Sun City Challenge by two strokes at the Gary Player Country Club on Sunday.

Westwood began the final day with a seven-shot lead after the course-record 62 he fired in the third round, but the Briton did not have the same sharpness to his game on Sunday.

The rest of the field could not capitalise, however, with second-placed Swede Robert Karlsson's 68 being the best score of the fourth round, and Westwood could afford to bogey the last two holes for a win that was more convincing then the scoreline suggests.

Westwood's final-round 73 saw him finish on 15-under-par 273 for the tournament, earning the world number three the winner's cheque of $1.25 million in the 12-man invitational event.

The Englishman went through the front nine in two-under-par with birdies at the par-four sixth and par-five ninth holes as he reached the turn with a five-stroke lead.

He told a news conference: "Graeme McDowell got within four of me and Robert Karlsson made a few putts coming in, but I played conservatively.

"Sometimes I aimed 25-30 feet wide of the flags and I wasn't concerned about the odd bogey because I felt the course was playing quite tough."

Northern Irishman McDowell went to four-under-par for his round with a birdie at the par-five 10th, but his hopes took a dive with a double-bogey at the par-four 15th when his approach to the green went way down a bank.

His first chip only went halfway back and his second chip was flying over the green when it hit the flag and rebounded 25 feet from the hole.

Karlsson's 68 was a steady round, but he struggled to develop the momentum necessary to challenge Westwood, while American Jason Dufner shot a 69 and had been just four shots behind the leader when he reached the 15th tee.

But he paid the price for putting his drive in the thick African bush, his second shot catching a flyer and finishing well right of the green, leading to a double-bogey.

Dufner claimed joint third place on 11-under alongside McDowell.

South Korea's Kim Kyung-tae Kim shot his fourth successive 70 to complete an impressive first visit to South Africa in fifth place on eight-under-par. South Africa's Charl Schwartzel finished sixth on six-under.

Westwood is the sixth golfer to defend his title at Sun City, following in the footsteps of Seve Ballesteros (1984), David Frost (1990), Nick Price (1998), Ernie Els (2000) and Jim Furyk (2006).

The 38-year-old said he felt more comfortable at the Gary Player Country Club than on most courses.

"It's a place I've always played well and it's a great tournament to win," he told reporters. "You've only got to look at the names on the trophy and on the walk to the ninth green to see that.

"It's set up like a major championship course, you have to be real accurate off the tee and, if your distance-control is good, you can set up lots of birdies."

No one has won three Sun City Challenge titles in a row and Westwood said: "Obviously I'm coming back then next year."

The former world number one now goes on to the Dubai World Championship where he has finished first and third in the last two years.

"There's nothing like winning to give you confidence and I'd like to keep that momentum going. I've played well on that course too," Westwood said.

Final scores:

273 Lee Westwood 68 70 62 73

275 Robert Karlsson 69 69 69 68

277 Graeme McDowell 70 67 70 70, Jason Dufner 70 68 70 69

280 Kyung-Tae Kim 70 70 70 70

282 Charl Schwartzel 68 74 68 72

283 Luke Donald 70 71 70 72

284 Martin Kaymer 70 68 70 76

287 Simon Dyson 70 70 75 72

288 Anders Hansen 72 69 77 70

295 Francesco Molinari 72 77 73 73

297 Darren Clarke 74 69 76 78

 








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