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Page last updated at 23:27 GMT, Sunday, 10 May 2009 00:27 UK

Stenson powers to Players title

FINAL LEADERBOARD (GB & Ireland unless stated):
-12 H Stenson (Swe) -8 I Poulter -7 J Mallinger (US), K Na (US) -6 B Davis, J Furyk (US), B Crane (US) -5 T Woods (US) -4 A Baddeley (Aus), V Singh (Fij)
Selected others:-4 A Cejka (Ger) -3 P Casey -2 S Garcia (Spa), J Rose, R Goosen (SA) Even L Donald, J Byrd (US)


Henrik Stenson
Stenson's victory lifts him to number five in the world

Swede Henrik Stenson held off the challenge of Ian Poulter to take the Players Championship after German Alex Cejka blew a five-shot overnight lead.

Stenson, 33, hit six birdies in a round of 66 to end 12 under and win by four from Poulter, who shot 70 at Sawgrass.

Cejka finished on four under after a round of 79, while Tiger Woods - who began joint second - dropped one shot in a 73 and ended eighth on five under.

England's Brian Davis finished tied fifth at six under after carding 71.

Stenson is the third European to win the flagship event on the US PGA Tour, joining last year's champion Sergio Garcia of Spain and Scot Sandy Lyle (1987).

"Last year was a great year. I felt in the past it was a little bit annoying not to have a top-10 in a major and so on, and I definitely got to put an end to that question with a third at the Open," Stenson said.

"And then the one I really felt like I had a good chance to win going into the last day was the PGA Championship. I felt like I was one out of four or five guys that had a good chance to win it. It obviously didn't happen that day, but it's all about putting yourself in that position.

"With the experience here, I know even better that I hope I can pull it off when it matters."

It had looked like being a different European name on the trophy - the five-stroke lead held by Cejka going into the final round was the largest 54-hole lead in the tournament's history, bettering a four-stroke advantage by Greg Norman in 1994 and Larry Mize in 1986.

However, the German obliterated that within six holes, bogeying the 1st, 5th and 6th and double-bogeying the 4th, and he never recovered.

His downfall brought all the chasing pack back into contention, and it was world number nine Stenson - tied second with Poulter and Woods overnight - who held his nerve to secure his most prestigious tournament victory to date.

"It was a bit frustrating to make those bogeys on the par fives on Saturday when everyone seemed to be making birdies. I gave a couple of shots away. It was key to get off to a decent start," said Poulter.

Poulter played well without that flash of inspiration to really trouble Stenson but a good three at the par-four 15th was enough to edge him ahead of Americans John Mallinger and Kevin Na, who both shot 70s to end tied third at seven under.

606: DEBATE

Woods' early decline, while not as dramatic as Cejka's, was equally ruinous of his chances of victory after being strongly placed at the start of the round.

The world number one bogeyed four of the first 10 holes and despite birdieing the 14th and 16th he was forced to settle for what, by his standards, was a disappointing finish.

The American has struggled for consistency following his February return after an eight-month lay-off for knee surgery.

"The knee feels great, no issues at all. That's a great sign," said Woods.

Woods also struggled off the tee in Sawgrass hitting the fairway just six times from 14 attempts on Sunday and 30 from 56 for the week.

"I'll fix it. When you are playing a golf course like this and you don't have it, and the greens are this fast and hard, you can shoot some pretty high numbers. You can see some guys went pretty high," he said.

World number 213 Davis eagled the 9th and birdied the 11th but could make no more headway and dropped a shot at 14 as his challenge faltered.

Of the other players starting the round tied for second, Retief Goosen hit a four-over 76 to drop to tied 22nd, while American duo Ben Crane and Jonathan Byrd had mixed fortunes, the former taking a share of fifth with a 72 and the latter capitulating with a round of 78.

American Jim Furyk fired a three-under-par 69 to propel himself from 17th to joint fifth place.

A birdie on the final hole gave Paul Casey a final-round 70 that took him to three under and tied 14th, but fellow Brits Justin Rose and Luke Donald both closed with 73s to finish joint 22nd and joint 37th respectively.

Padraig Harrington equalled his score from rounds one and two with a 72 to leave him two over and in joint 49th place, but it could have been better had a double-bogey at the 7th not cancelled out two early birdies for the Irishman.

Garcia produced a final round of 69, his best of the championship, which included an eagle on the 16th, to finish tied 22nd on two under.



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see also
Cejka chased by Woods at Players
09 May 09 |  Golf
Poulter in the hunt at Sawgrass
09 May 09 |  Golf
Poulter in contention at Sawgrass
07 May 09 |  Golf
Woods eyes Sawgrass improvement
05 May 09 |  Golf
Garcia snatches play-off victory
12 May 08 |  Golf


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Sports Network Awesome final round gives Stenson Players Championship - 1 hr ago
Cape TimesSawgrass win gives Stenson confidence for majors - 18 hrs ago
The Star South Africa Scoreboard - May 12, 2009 - 22 hrs ago
ESPN Star Stenson wins; Tiger and co falter - 36 hrs ago
Ireland On-Line Stenson wins as rivals falter - 38 hrs ago
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