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Garcia claims title in playoff

Spain's Sergio Garcia clinched the Sun City Golf Challenge with a birdie on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff against Ernie Els to take the $2 million first prize.

Garcia chipped in for a birdie from the back fringe of the par-three 16th green at the Gary Player Country Club course to rob Els of a record third successive title. The South African managed only a par on the hole.

"I played well this year and lost two playoffs so I was looking forward to turning that around," Garcia said after his fourth victory this year.

"The money is great, but the chip on 16 wasn't for $2 million. It was to win the tournament and beat a great field. That makes me more proud of this achievement than the money."

Garcia and Els finished the regulation 72 holes at 20-under par 268 following respective final rounds of 63 and 69.

Garcia held a one-stroke lead over Els at 21-under par and playing the last.

But the Spaniard bogeyed the par-four 18th when his second shot finished near the grandstand and in the right greenside rough, forcing the playoff.

"I thought I'd lost it on 18. I was trying to cut an eight-iron into the green. But sometimes under pressure you get a bad swing thought and I lost it (to the) right," Garcia said.

He began the round six shots adrift of Els's lead, and started his charge with a chip in for eagle at the third.

Els was looking certain to claim the title, and was at one stage four shots clear of the field and Garcia, who had moved into contention with birdies at the seventh, ninth and 10th.

But it was a run of five birdies in six holes from the 12th and Els's bogey at the 11th -- where he fluffed his chip from the rough at the back of the green and moved the ball only five feet -- which set up Garcia's victory.

"Ernie's bogey at 11 helped me a lot because I was only one behind him at that stage," said Garcia.

"When I made the birdie putt at 13 and got to 18-under I knew I had a chance. I knew I could get a couple of birdies coming in."

Garcia was on the fringe of the 14th green facing a 12-footer for birdie with Els on the 12th tee when play was suspended for an hour and 24 minutes due to lightning.

Garcia returned to hole his putt and tie for the lead with Els. He took the sole lead with his fourth birdie in a row at the 15th and another at the 17th, with Els birdying the 14th to be one behind until Garcia's drop at the last and the playoff.

"I played the chip in the playoff perfectly. It was downhill with a left to right break and I hit it one cup left," said Garcia.

"I wasn't that happy yet because I knew Ernie could hole his 15-footer for birdie."

German Bernhard Langer capped a solid year of three victories with third place on 17-under par 271 after a 69.



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