Wed, Dec 08, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Goosen takes Sun City, Singh the US

CHAMPIONS US Open champion Retief Goosen won his first Sun City Golf Challenge title on Sunday, while Fijian Vijay Singh was named the PGA Tour's Player of the Year

AGENCIES , SUN CITY, SOUTH AFRICA AND NEW YORK

Retief Goosen of South Africa plays his tee shot at the 17th on the final day of the 2004 Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, South Africa. Goosen shot a final round of 69 on Sunday to finish on 7 under par to win the tournament six shots clear of the field.

PHOTO: EPA

South Africa's Retief Goosen claimed his first Sun City Golf Challenge title at the Gary Player Country Club on Sunday after overnight leader Lee Westwood slumped to an 80.

Goosen, the US Open champion, carded a final round 69 for a 72-hole aggregate of seven-under par 281 to win by six strokes from countryman Ernie Els and Australia's Stuart Appleby.

The 35-year-old Goosen nearly withdrew from the tournament on Wednesday on news that his two-week old daughter Ella had been taken to hospital with a fever.

"I was ready to pack my bags and head home to England," Goosen said. "But Tracey [his wife] persuaded me to stay and Ella will be out of hospital either tonight or tomorrow."

Goosen started the day on four under, one shot behind leader Westwood, but produced the best nine holes of the tournament to go out in 31 and five shots clear of the field at the turn.

Englishman Westwood recorded a disappointing round of eight over par to drop back to three-over for the tournament and a share of sixth place in the 12-man field.

The course, which has been lengthened to combat the power of the modern professionals, proved too tough for many of the world's leading players.

There were only four sub-70 rounds in the 48 played and defending champion Sergio Garcia ended on a total of 15-over par 303.

Goosen birdied the par-five second, the par-four sixth and the par-three seventh to take the early lead on seven under par.

Westwood matched him in the early stages and when the pair stood on the eighth tee there was just one shot between them.

But the Englishman recorded a triple bogey on the difficult par four after missing the fairway and fluffing a bunker shot to let the South African surge ahead and into an unassailable lead.

"When I woke up this morning I knew the wind was going to pick up and that it was important to get off to a good start," Goosen said.

"I did that and although I made mistakes on the back nine nobody made a run at me because the course is so tough," he said.

Goosen also started the week in ill health after suffering the effects of a cold and the punishing heat.

"The medics have been very good here and by Saturday I was feeling a lot better," he said.

"I battled with my swing all week but my chipping was good and I managed to get up and down when I needed to."

The US$1.2 million prize was the biggest cheque the world No. 4 had picked up this year.

Singh gets his due

Fiji's Vijay Singh, the first golfer to win more than US$10 million in one season, was named the PGA Tour's Player of the Year for the first time on Monday.

Singh ended the five-year reign of Tiger Woods as world No. 1 in September, defeating Woods in a man-to-man duel for the Deutsche Bank Championship title to confirm his supremacy.

"It has been a big year," Singh said. "I never thought it would be this big. It's so satisfying to know that it has come to this. It was well worth the journey."

Woods had won Player of the Year honors the past five seasons, edging Singh last year despite Singh taking the 2003 season money title from Woods.

"I had something to prove this year coming on knowing last year it was so close," Singh said. "I was disappointed last year. I thought winning the money at least was a consistency of the whole season."

Known for his amazing work ethic and practice and fitness regimen, the 41-year-old veteran led the US PGA with 18 top-10 finishes, a scoring average of 68.84 and with 4.40 birdies per round.

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