Golf: Roberts gets off the mark: Langer slips away while Baker is happy to gain experience

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The Independent Online
A TOURNAMENT with the best field so far this year ought to have had a volatile finish, and the Nestle Invitational at Bay Hill did not disappoint.

Three different golfers held the lead during the final round, and that advantage was only once by more than one stroke, Vijay Singh's two shot cushion lasting just a couple of minutes. After he three-putted the 17th, Singh came to the final hole tied at 13 under par with Loren Roberts, who was in with a 67. Singh completely misplayed the hole, from rough to rough to fringe, handing Roberts his first win.

Roberts, in his 13th season on the PGA Tour, was until yesterday the leading money- winner, with dollars 2.2m ( pounds 1.5m), among that unfortunate category of players without a victory. 'It's been a long time. I'm one of the last guys of my generation to win, and it means a lot,' Roberts said.

After spending nearly the entire final round in a three- way tie for the lead with Singh and Roberts, Fuzzy Zoeller finally took the lead on his own with a tap-in birdie on the 16th.

The lead did not last long, as the former Masters and US Open champion combined horrible luck and worse chipping to double-bogey the 17th. Zoeller's tee-shot on the par three hit a spectator in the head, bouncing 30 yards into the lake.

Bernhard Langer was the only European in any position to win yesterday, four behind Singh after shooting Saturday's low round of 65, but Langer's chances decreased hole by hole as he failed to gain ground on the leaders, finally finishing with a 74, one of the few world-class players still in contention who was unable to sustain his challenge.

Peter Baker, playing in his first US Tour event, had just two goals this week - to enjoy the pampering and play all four rounds. Both accomplished, Baker, after his final round of 71 gave him a three- over total of 291, said: 'I never really played good enough to do any better. But as an experience you can't beat it. I'm really glad I came over.'

Ian Woosnam had the most volatile round of the day - four bogeys, two double bogeys and five birdies for a 75 total, putting him a stroke behind Baker at 292. Woosnam's post- round summary: 'Rubbish.'

NESTLE INVITATIONAL (Bay Hill) Leading final scores (US unless stated): 275 L Roberts 70 70 68 67. 276 F Zoeller 72 68 67 69; N Price (Zim) 66 72 68 70; V Singh (Fiji) 68 69 68 71. 277 L Mize 68 69 71 69; T Lehman 72 67 68 70. 278 G Norman (Aus) 68 72 71 67. 279 T Watson 69 70 67 73. 280 A Magee 70 67 69 74. 281 B Glasson 70 72 71 68; D A Weibring 71 73 70 67; G Day 70 68 72 71. Selected: 283 B Langer (Ger) 75 69 65 74. 285 J Parnevik (Swe) 73 74 66 72. 291 P Baker (Eng) 74 72 74 71. 292 I Woosnam (Wal) 71 72 74 75.