Stenson no longer the 'nearly man' after birdies save the day

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The Independent Online

Henrik Stenson held his nerve in challenging conditions to win the Commercialbank Qatar Masters by three strokes here yesterday but he was pushed all the way by a resolute Paul Broadhurst.

It was nip and tuck all afternoon as the Swede and his English rival went head to head, but a birdie at the 17th ensured Stenson went to the last with two shots in hand, an advantage he then pressed home with a fifth birdie of the day to end with a four-under-par 68.

Broadhurst, who showed great tenacity to keep the pressure on while 30mph gusts raced across the desert course, finished one shot clear of South Africa's Darren Fichardt, the 2003 Qatar Masters champion, after a round of 70.

Stenson, 29, had been desperate to shake off his "nearly man" tag after placing in the top three four times in his last six events. A year ago, he was unable to close out the tournament despite starting his final round with a two-shot lead as Ernie Els came from five shots back to pip him. This time, he delivered on the promise he has shown of late, which has led some to describe him as the best player in Europe.

Stenson's win brought him £188,000 and a step closer to realising his key ambition of the season. "My main goal this year is to make the Ryder Cup, which means playing more European events," he said. "There's a long way to go but I am definitely closing in on the team now, and another good couple of weeks and we should have that sorted."

One behind at the start of his round, Broadhurst was impressed by what he saw playing alongside Stenson. "He's the next special one from Europe," he said. "He's got a great chance of winning majors. I think he's next in line."

A four-strong group finished at nine under, including England's Nick Dougherty and Richard Finch. Els could not muster a charge, the South African making a level-par 72 to finish at five under. That put him three shots clear of the other main draw of the weekend, the world No 2 Vijay Singh, who, after three rounds of struggle with his putting, saved his best round for last with a 68.

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