Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson of Sweden came from behind for a three-stroke victory in the World Cup of Golf yesterday, shooting a remarkable nine-under 63 to overtake third-round co-leaders Spain and Australia.
Miguel Angel Jimenez and Pablo Larrazabal finished with a 70 — three behind. The Australian pair of Richard Green and Brendan Jones slumped to a 76, nine off the pace of Sweden’s winning total of 27-under 261 at Mission Hills.
Ryuji Imada and Toru Taniguchi (68) of Japan also finished nine shots behind, with Martin Kaymer and Alex Cjeka (73) of Germany 11 shots back.
Defending champions Scotland (72), led by Colin Montgomerie, finished on 281 — 20 behind. Americans Ben Curtis and Brandt Snedeker (73) were 13-under 275.
The Swedes started the day four behind Spain, but notched five brides on the front nine to catch their fellow Europeans at 23-under. Playing a group ahead of Spain, Stenson missed a short birdie putt on 10 that would have put them at 24-under.
However, Sweden pulled into the outright lead with birdies on 11, 12, 14 and 15 to reach 27-under — four clear of Spain.
Stenson missed a 10-footer on 13 that would have extended the lead even further.
The key was mastering the difficult foursomes (alternate shot) format, played Friday and Sunday. In foursomes, teams play only one ball and alternate shots. Four-balls (best ball) is easier. Each golfer plays his own ball and counts the best score on each hole.
Sweden shot 67-63-130 playing foursomes and 65-66-131 playing four-ball.
The Swedes were the favorites entering the tournament and two of only three players in the field ranked in the top 20. Karlsson, who won the European money title this season, is No. 6 and Stenson is 12th. Spain’s Jimenez is ranked 20th.
Each of the leading teams seemed to have a hot day — Germany on Thursday, Spain on Friday and Australia on Saturday.
“I thought it was our turn today,” Stenson said.
The victory caps a great season for Karlsson, who had two victories on the European tour. Stenson is winless this season in individual play.
“I’m starting to run out of tournaments,” Stenson said. “This is my third last. So I’ve got two more to go in South Africa. But winning for Sweden is nice. It’s been a while.”
Spain have won the event four times, the last time in 1984 with Jose Maria Canizares and Jose Rivero. Sweden’s only other victory was in 1991 with Per-Ulrik Johansson and Anders Forsbrand.
All four days were played in perfect, warm conditions with a light breeze stirring through the hilly, tree-lined course designed by two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal. The rolling layout would look familiar anywhere. Only a stone statue of Guanyin along the 18th fairway — a Chinese female goddess with Buddhist origins — suggests the club’s location.
The Swedes split US$1.7 million in prize money, a big chunk of the US$5.5 million purse.