Mark Wilson of the US showed nerves of steel as he sank a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-three 12th to move two strokes clear in the final round of the frost-delayed Phoenix Open on Sunday.
For the first time on a marathon day at TPC Scottsdale, he held the outright lead and the siren sounded one hole later to suspend play in fading light with the weather-hit tournament set for a rare Monday finish.
“I’ve got a two-shot lead, but that could evaporate quickly with an eagle by someone in front of us on 15,” Wilson, 36, told reporters. “I know if I hit good shots coming in, make two or three birdies, I’m probably going to be holding the trophy. If I’m not, someone has beat me and I can handle that.”
Wilson, who won his third USPGA Tour title at last month’s Sony Open in Hawaii, was at 18-under, two ahead of compatriots Tommy Gainey and Jason Dufner, plus Fijian Vijay Singh.
Nationwide Tour graduate Gainey, playing with Wilson in the final group, bogeyed the 12th after three-putting to slip out of a share of the lead, while Dufner had four holes to play.
Former world No. 1 Singh, who opted to play the final hole in the gathering gloom, parred the last for a five-under 66 to hold the clubhouse lead at 16-under 268.
Big-hitting J.B. Holmes of the US, a double winner of the Phoenix Open, closed with a 67 to finish at 15-under, level with compatriot Nick Watney (68).
Thomas Bjorn became the first Danish-born player to capture the Qatar Masters on Sunday when he recorded a bogey-free final-round 69 in windy conditions to win by four strokes.
The Dane, who turns 40 later this month, finished ahead of Spain’s Alvaro Quiros on 14-under 274 to pick up his 11th title on the European Tour and move to third in this season’s money list.
Spaniard Rafael Cabrera and Austria’s Markus Brier finished a shot further back on 279, while defending champion Robert Karlsson of Sweden closed with a 74 for 282 and Spain’s Sergio Garcia hit a 68 for a 283 final total.
Bjorn’s world ranking is now set to improve from 134 to the top 60, a position he will want to consolidate at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic.
The world’s top 64 players will contest the lucrative WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona later this month and the victory is a timely one for the former Ryder Cup vice captain, who had previously won only once since 2006.
TSENG SURGES TO NO. 2
STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA
Taiwan’s Yani Tseng saw her world ranking surge to No. 2 yesterday, a day after she snatched her second title of the year at the Women’s Australian Open, according to the latest LPGA statistics.
The 22-year-old saw her world ranking jump from fifth to second, just behind South Korea’s Shin Ji-yai, with an average of 9.80, the statistics showed.
The LPGA Tour’s player of the year last year won the Australian tournament on Sunday with a 16-under total, seven shots clear of runner-up Shin, who nevertheless remains the world No. 1 with an average of 10.17.
Cristie Kerr of the US now ranks No. 3, followed by Norway’s Suzann Pettersen.
Tseng could overtake Shin to claim top spot if she maintains her form at the Honda LPGA Thailand scheduled to begin on Feb. 17.