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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > European Tour > Johnnie Walker Classic > Round 4


Kevin Stadler wins with 72nd hole eagle

American Kevin Stadler stepped out of his father's shadow on Sunday as he joined the list of celebrated winners of the Johnnie Walker Classic with a two-stroke triumph over Australian Nick O'Hern .

Overnight leader Stadler struck a mighty eagle at the par five 18th hole at The Vines Resort and Country Club to claim a sensational victory, closing with a final round of three-under-par 69 for a winning score of 20-under-par 268.

The left-handed O'Hern birdied his last two holes, narrowly missing an eagle on 18, for a 68 to briefly tie with Stadler . But the young American, whose father Craig is a 13-time winner on the US PGA Tour and a former US Masters winner, responded magnificently by nearly holing his three iron approach from 220 yards out. His ball stopped a foot from the cup for his third successive eagle on the last.

Australian duo Richard Green and Robert Allenby shared third place, four behind the winner after rounds of 71 and 66 respectively. Choi Kyung- ju of Korea , better known as K.J., challenged early on before settling as Asia 's best performer in fifth place following a 72.

"It was obviously the best shot I hit all week," said Stadler of his great approach into the last. "I wasn't sure if Nick had made birdie there. I figured he had, I knew I needed to make at least a four (birdie). I hit a three iron from 220 yards into the wind a little bit. Couldn't have been a better number for me, perfect number, perfect pin.

"Honestly, I'm kind of baffled by it (winning). It was a great week. Except for those three holes in the middle there, I felt like I had total control of my game. I really like the golf course and it seemed to suit me well and it worked out," added Stadler , who played this week on a sponsor's invite.

It was Standler's first major win after three previous successes on the secondary circuits in the United States and Europe . The 26-year-old Stadler , who led by two overnight, started strongly with two birdies in his opening three holes before suffering a lapse with three consecutive bogeys from the fifth to the seventh holes.

But the burly American, who sports a goatee as opposed to his father's famous moustache which earned him the nickname "Walrus", holed a clutch putt for par on the eighth before shooting birdies on nine and 10, which saw him regain a one-stroke edge.

O'Hern , winless on the European Tour, endured his sixth runner-up finish but was delighted with how he fought on till the end. "I thought I might have had a chance when he needed to birdie the last and he hit a great shot in there, so all credit to him. Normally 18-under wins a tournament. It's a hollow feeling obviously. I played my heart out and I'm really proud of the last four or five holes. I'm going to take a lot away from this. It's going to happen soon, I know it," said the local hero.

Choi, a three-time winner on the US PGA Tour, started the day two behind Stadler and got closer to the lead with birdies on the third and fourth holes. But a bogey on the par three seventh and another on the par five 10th derailed his ambitions of becoming Asia's first winner of the Johnnie Walker Classic, won previously by great names like Greg Norman, Nick Faldo , Tiger Woods and Ernie Els .

"I had a good start but I just couldn't keep it going. After yesterday's round where I sweated so much, I didn't sleep well last night and my body felt a bit different today. I missed a few putts for birdies from close range early on and I just couldn't read the putts at all today. Sometimes I thought it was left and it went right," said Choi.

"Coming down the back nine, I thought I still had a chance to catch Kevin but the bogey on 10 slowed me down. And then I doubled the 17th with a three putt and that was it for me," said Choi, whose fifth place finish was his best achievement yet in the Johnnie Walker Classic.

India 's Shiv Kapur closed with a 70 to finish tied 12th on 276 on his 24th birthday. "I'm pretty satisfied with four decent rounds, to shoot under par over four days on a course like this, especially in the final round when the wind was blowing," said Kapur , who carded earlier scores of 68, 71 and 67.

"I could have been a couple of shots better. I had another week where I wasn't really happy with my putting."

Thailand 's Prayad Marksaeng and Asian Tour member Andrew Buckle of Australia were amongst those who tied for 15th place while Korea 's Lee Sung-man enjoyed a top-20 in tied 18th position on 278.

Prayad said: "It could have been a bit better. I had two three-putt bogeys on the seventh and 17th holes which was disappointing. During the weekend, my irons didn't work well but 69 today is still a good score.

"I started nicely with birdies on the second and sixth holes from eight and five feet respectively. After the turn, I played nicely with birdies on 10 and 12 from close range and was hoping to finish strongly. But on 17, I was caught out by the tricky undulation and three putted. It could have ended up very nicely for me on 18 as I nearly holed out from the greenside bunker for an eagle three. It would have been a nice way to wrap up my week here."

Title holder Adam Scott of Australia signed off with a 69 for a share of sixth place on 274 with England 's Ian Poulter and Italian Francesco Molinari .

The Johnnie Walker Classic is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Australasian Tour.



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