Stenson burst claims 'fifth major' as Cejka chokes
Monday 11 May 2009
Henrik Stenson's CV may still be minus the major his immense talent deserves but at least it now boasts the next best thing. The Swede became just the third European to win The Players last night as Sawgrass restated its propensity for breaking hearts and making champions.
Stenson was a worthy four-stroke victor, adding the near £1.2m first prize to the jackpots he picked up at the 2007 WGC World Match Play and last year's World Cup. Yet, as ever, there were a few of his peers leaving Jacksonville last night convinced they should have captured the event otherwise known as "the fifth major".
Ian Poulter, for one, might look back at his third-round 75 and always wonder. The Englishman managed to shake off his Saturday disappointment in typically confident fashion to record a 70, which earned him outright second. And regardless of any missed opportunities it was the Englishman's finest display in America to date and after his runner-up placing at last year's Open and his heroics in Europe's Ryder Cup defeat in Kentucky last September, it confirmed Poulter as one of the game's big-time performers. Playing alongside his countryman Brian Davis, who also enjoyed a great week finishing in a tie fifth, Poulter was one of this tournament's shining lights.
If only Alex Cejka could draw such consolation. Nobody felt the sense of anti-climax any more keenly than the German who went out with a five-shot lead, but saw it disappear within one hour of calamity during which he dropped five strokes in his first six holes. He ended with a 79.
The Cejka capitulation was not entirely unexpected; what certainly was not predicted, however, was the failure of his playing partner to take advantage. Tiger Woods's 73 left him in eighth. Once again his immense armoury did not produce the customary firepower and although it is far from action stations Woods obviously has plenty to work on.
With Woods out of the picture, it was left to Stenson to stride out and re-establish himself as a top-five player. The Ryder Cup stalwart was simply brilliant in firing a day's best 66 and fairly blew away the field when negotiating the feared back nine in 32 shots.
*John Daly finished in a tie for second behind Daniel Vancsik at the Italian Open yesterday in just his second tournament in the last four months. The former Open champion received a six-month ban from the US Tour for being thrown in jail to sober up, but proved he has straightened himself out since with a final-round 66 in Turin.
Latest in Sport
England vs New Zealand second Test match report: England’s bold boast turns into hot air and humiliation
Fifa corruption: Sepp Blatter's right-hand man Jerome Valcke 'sent' $10m payment to Jack Warner in letter from the South African FA
England 'favourites' to host 2018 World Cup after Sepp Blatter resignation
Michael Schumacher: Bernie Ecclestone reveals why he can't visit former F1 champion because he 'doesn't want to see him like that'
Brendan Rodgers' job safe for now but Liverpool owners plan for improvement
- 1 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
- 5 We have six months to save the world, says leading economist
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers