Golf: Singh blocks the pain with blistering performance: Fijian overcomes trapped nerve and heatwave to fight off pursuing Parnevik's late drive for a home victory in Scandanavian Open

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The Independent Online
VIJAY SINGH, who began the final round of the Scandinavian Masters yesterday three strokes off the lead, won by three after overhauling the field by the golf equivalent of half-time. While Singh was sucking his orange the rest were playing for place money. It is just as well that the Fijian has a bad back.

Singh shot 64 over the vulnerable Drottningholms course and at one point seemed poised to beat the course record of 61 set by Fred Couples in 1991. He was set to do so, but then began to play sensibly and conservatively. This is partly because Singh, who has a trapped nerve in his back, felt the pain at the 10th and again at the 11th. Naturally he birdied both holes.

He began the week by taking injections and yesterday was on a double dose of painkillers. In the end he settled for a 64 to finish at 20 under par for the championship, three in front of Mark McNulty, of Zimbabwe, and four in front of Jesper Parnevik, of Sweden, Per Haugsrud, of Norway, and Mark Davis, of Essex.

Yes, Parnevik did look at the scoreboard but only because 'it's the sort of course where you have to chase birdies and eagles. If it had been an ordinary course I wouldn't have bothered'. This was not the result the huge Swedish crowd were hoping for, but Parnevik gave them a run for their kronor. Although he faltered over the back nine in a round of 67 he got a birdie at the last and when he doffed his cap he was treated to a reception that was longer and louder than anything he experienced during the course of his epic but futile performance in the Open at Turnberry.

It was a heartwarming homecoming for Parnevik. He gets married in Stockholm on Saturday and the following day leaves to play in the US PGA Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Haugsrud does not have such a busy programme but in his first event on the European Tour he has possibly won enough money to secure his card for next year. The Norwegian, who used to be a member at this course, has been playing the smaller Challenge Tour, the Asian Tour and the South African Tour without any success. Yesterday, he did not have a a single bogey in a round of 68.

The chasing pack went out of the traps so quickly it could have been Walthamstow on a Friday night but for the fact that the temperature was again in the nineties, the spectators numbered 21,000 and refreshment was so expensive you needed a mortgage. In the fourth from last group, Sven Struver was the first to excite the crowd following a bogey at the second with an eagle and a birdie to go to 13 under. He was matched by McNulty.

By the time Davis and Mark Roe, the leaders, teed off they were already patently aware, even if they did not look at a scoreboard, that a Swede was making the going even hotter. The deafening roars from Parnie's Army told its own story. Parnevik's opening gambit was three birdies in a row and he went from 11 under to 14. By the time Davis and Roe missed the green at the fifth, both taking bogeys, they had been overtaken.

Immediately ahead of them Singh, courtesy of four birdies in the first five holes, went to 16 under and was the leader by two strokes. The mayhem continued. When Singh bogeyed the short sixth he was caught by Parnevik but the Fijian, who has a house in Chiswick, once again went to the top of the leaderboard with an eagle at the seventh, the first of the par fives. Parnevik missed a seven- foot putt for an eagle at the same hole, but at 16 under he was the biggest threat to Singh's charge.

However, when Parnevik dropped a stroke at the 11th the game was up. He had gone to the turn in a blistering 31, five under for the day, and it was not good enough. Stateside, Vijay would be familiar with the phrase that it 'ain't over 'til the fat lady sings'. In Lautoka it is just possible, although highly unlikely considering that his face is more familiar in Chiswick High Street than Fiji, that they say 'it ain't over 'til Vijay sings'. He reached the turn in 30 and headed for home with further birdies at the 10th and 11th, and nobody could match that.

Like Singh, Parnevik plays most of his golf on the US Tour but it is the European Tour that pays their bills. Singh won pounds 108,330. Parnevik, who has done nothing in America, has won a small fortune in the last few weeks: third in the Scottish Open, second in the Open and joint third here. There are two ways of looking at this. It could be argued that the American experience has made him a better player or that he is more at home in Europe.

As for Singh he seems to be able to win anywhere: Malaysia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, the Ivory Coast, America and Europe. This was the 15th win of his career and if he continues to have trouble with his back there will almost certainly be more.

SCANDINAVIAN MASTERS (Stockholm) Final- round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 268 V Singh (Fiji) 68 67 69 64. 271 M McNulty (Zim) 67 69 69 66. 272 J Parnevik (Swe) 69 71 65 67; P Haugsrud (Nor) 70 66 68 68; M Davis 64 72 65 71. 273 M Roe 66 72 64 71. 274 R Karlsson (Swe) 70 68 69 67; S Struver (Ger) 70 65 70 69. 275 P Curry 66 72 71 66; J Bland (SA) 68 70 70 67; A Coltart 72 67 66 70. 276 C Montgomerie 72 68 68 68; S Watson 70 68 70 68; M Besanceney (Fr) 70 72 64 70. 277 G J Brand 70 70 71 66; P O'Malley (Aus) 69 67 72 69; F Nobilo (NZ) 69 67 71 70; S Richardson 70 72 65 70; B Ogle (Aus) 70 70 67 70. 278 P Affleck 64 72 75 67; S Tinning (Den) 72 70 69 67; B Langer (Ger) 67 74 69 68; L Westwood 72 70 66 70; M McLean 69 67 71 71. 279 R Boxall 72 70 70 67; J Spence 68 73 70 68; P Fulke (Swe) 67 68 73 71; M Harwood (Aus) 68 71 69 71; G Levenson (SA) 67 68 72 72. 280 J Haeggman (Swe) 68 69 75 68; M Clayton (Aus) 67 73 72 68; D Cooper 67 70 73 70; P-U Johansson (Swe) 72 69 70 69; M Zerman (It) 71 67 71 71. 281 P Mitchell 71 71 71 68; M Piltz (Fin) 68 70 73 70; C Williams 71 69 71 70; S Luna (Sp) 74 67 69 71; R Claydon 70 72 68 71; M A Jimenez (Sp) 71 69 69 72; S Grappasonni (It) 70 71 68 72. 282 A Hunter 72 70 71 69; A Binaghi (It) 68 73 71 70; O Nordberg (Swe) 71 70 71 70; I Gervas (Sp) 71 71 70 70; D Borrego (Sp) 70 70 71 71; J Robinson 70 67 72 73. 283 J Rivero (Sp) 70 72 72 69; M Gronberg (Swe) 69 73 71 70; J McHenry 68 74 70 71; M A Martin (Sp) 67 72 72 72; G Brand Jnr 70 70 71 72. 284 M Farry (Fr) 69 72 70 73. 285 I Woosnam 71 71 72 71; B Lane 72 70 71 72; T Levet (Fr) 69 73 69 74; J Townsend (US) 72 69 69 75; * M Lundberg (Swe) 71 67 71 76. 286 P Eales 69 70 78 69. 287 D R Jones 73 69 74 71; A Bossert (Swit) 72 69 72 74; F Larsson (Swe) 70 70 73 74. 291 M Miller 68 74 71 78. 292 O Sellberg (Swe) 71 71 74 76; D J Russell 69 72 71 80. 295 P Lawrie 71 70 76 78.

* denotes amateur

VOLVO EUROPEAN TOUR ORDER OF MERIT (GB or Irl unless stated): 1 J M Olazabal (Sp) pounds 315,530.07; 2 C Montgomerie pounds 297,994.58; 3 B Langer (Ger) pounds 280,500.85; 4 M A Jimenez (Sp) pounds 270,347.89; 5 M Roe pounds 234,477.87; 6 E Els (SA) pounds 224,325.37; 7 N Faldo pounds 222,099.31; 8 R Allenby (Aus) pounds 201,819.18; 9 H Clark pounds 188,203.22; 10 C Mason pounds 179,469.06; 11 P Mitchell pounds 168,226.76; 12 D Gilford pounds 162,081.95; 13 S Ballesteros (Sp) pounds 160,648.78; 14 J Parnevik (Swe) pounds 159,133.33; 15 A Forsbrand (Swe) pounds 151,336.17; 16 J Lomas pounds 150,245.03; 17 V Singh (Fiji) pounds 143,550.00; 18 M McNulty (Zim) pounds 139,949.66; 19 G Hjertstedt (Swe) pounds 136,355.14; 20 P Curry pounds 129,805.83.

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