Golf: Duval's rise gathers pace

DAVID DUVAL continued his rise to prominence on Sunday by coasting to a nine-stroke victory in the Mercedes Championship in Kapalua, Hawaii.

The 27-year-old American shot a closing 68 in a testing breeze to complete the opening tournament of the US Tour 26 shots under par at 266. Mark O'Meara, who also closed with a 68, and Billy Mayfair, who carded 71, finished joint second on 275.

Duval's victory margin was the largest in nearly two years on the US PGA Tour, since Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters by 12 strokes. He also came within two strokes of matching the tour's record low score in relation to par, set by John Huston at last year's Hawaiian Open.

"To [win] a tournament in which everyone playing knows how to win makes it so special," Duval said of the 30-man field, which was restricted to last year's tour winners. Duval earned $468,000 (pounds 285,000) for his eighth win in his past 27 starts on the PGA Tour. Not since Nick Price won nine times in 1993-94 has anyone won so often in such a short period. "I hope I can keep doing this for another 10 or 15 years," Duval said.

Duval started the final round five strokes ahead of Fred Funk, who cut the margin to three shots after five holes before fading to finish joint fifth.

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