Weir holds off Woods to win American Express Championship

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The Independent Online

Canadian Mike Weir held off defending champion Tiger Woods today to win the $1 million first prize in the American Express Championship in Sotogrande, Spain, shooting a closing 3-under-par 69 for a composite 11-under 277.

Canadian Mike Weir held off defending champion Tiger Woods today to win the $1 million first prize in the American Express Championship in Sotogrande, Spain, shooting a closing 3-under-par 69 for a composite 11-under 277.

Woods, who trailed Weir by two shots with two to play, saw his chances washed out again with a water ball on the par-5 17th, where he took a disastrous double-bogey 7. In the last five rounds at Valderrama, Woods found the water on 17 four times.

Woods finished with a level-par 72, his 51st straight round of par or better. It also marked the third straight tournament where Woods has been within two strokes of the lead in the final round and failed to win.

This event shifts to Bellerive in St. Louis next year. Asked if he was glad the tournament was not returning to Valderrama in deep southern Spain, and openly angry Woods replied: "I'm glad we're not going to come back ever again."

England's Lee Westwood shot a 67 and finished two strokes behind Weir, a finish that also gave Westwood the European money title after a seven-year run by Colin Montgomerie.

Duffy Waldorf (69) and Vijay Singh (68) were three back with four players four strokes off the pace: Woods (72), Padraig Harrington (70), Nick Price (72) and Spain's Sergio Garcia (64).

The 30-year-old Canadian's second career victory - he won the Air Canada Championship last season - deprived Woods of becoming the first player in 50 years to win 10 times on tour and also left him just short of breaking the dlrs 10 million winnings barrier.

Weir was never overtaken after grabbing the lead outright with a birdie on No. 7. He went two ahead with another birdie on No. 8 to go 12-under par.

Nick Price, the leader after two rounds, also saw his chance of overtaking Weir end in the water at 17. Price, one shot behind Weir and playing two groups behind him, dumped two balls into the pond guarding the green and walked off with a triple-bogey 8.

Price has been one of the most outspoken critics of the 1997 Ryder Cup venue, calling it a near-world class venue that needs a half-dozen holes modified - first and foremost, No. 17. He also wants a few of the thousands of cork trees on the course cut down.

Japanese Hidemichi Tanaka, who was the surprise leader after three rounds and one shot ahead of Weir, slumped to a 5-over 77 and a 4-under 284.

Montgomerie, who had to win the tournament to have any chance of taking his eighth Euro money title, finished with a 2-over 74 for 288.

Darren Clarke, who topped the Euro money list going into the season-ending event, shot a 70 and also finished on 288. The finish left him No. 2 on the money list to his good friend Westwood.

"It had to end some time," Montgomerie said. "You can't keep doing that. I have been fortunate to say the last 12 years I have improved every year. But this year I haven't, so it's disappointing."

Westwood barely escaped on 17 with a bogey 6 after hitting his drive into a wooded area on the right.

"I ended up making a very good six, that was the best six I made all year, Westwood said. It was also a valuable six, worth dlrs 500,000 in second-place prize money.

Collated final round scores & totals in the American Express world championship, Valderrama, Spain, GB & Irl unless stated, par 72):

277 M Weir (Can) 68 75 65 69 (£690,417) 279 L Westwood 72 72 68 67 (£345,208) 280 V Singh (Fij) 71 70 71 68, D Waldorf (USA) 70 69 72 69 (£198,149 each) 281 S Garcia (Spa) 69 74 74 64, P Harrington 66 72 73 70, N Price (Zim) 63 72 74 72, T Woods (USA) 71 69 69 72 (£108,740 each) 282 M Campbell (Nzl) 72 71 69 70 283 M Calcavecchia (USA) 72 67 69 75 284 S Flesch (USA) 71 72 73 68, B May (USA) 71 69 72 72, H Tanaka (Jpn) 71 66 70 77 285 K Triplett (USA) 72 73 71 69, J Coceres (Arg) 70 71 74 70 286 C Perry (USA) 68 72 75 71 288 F Langham (USA) 68 74 76 70, D Clarke 74 70 74 70, A Coltart 67 75 74 72, N Henning (Rsa) 69 74 73 72, A Cabrera (Arg) 74 74 67 73, S Hoch (USA) 67 76 71 74, JM Olazabal (Spa) 70 76 69 73, P Price 73 72 69 74 289 C DiMarco (USA) 74 74 73 68, S Appleby (Aus) 72 76 71 70, G Orr 71 74 73 71, R Alleby (Aus) 69 76 73 71, N Sato (Jpn) 73 73 72 71, E Romero (Arg) 71 72 74 72, D Toms (USA) 70 75 72 72, MA Jimenez (Spa) 74 73 70 72, C Montgomerie 75 67 73 74, J Leonard (USA) 72 74 69 74 290 B Langer (Ger) 75 69 76 70, N Ozaki (Jpn) 72 76 71 71, R Goosen (Rsa) 69 75 74 72, P McGinley 70 77 70 73 292 J Maggert (USA) 72 71 75 74 293 D Fichardt (Rsa) 76 80 69 68, T Bjorn (Den) 70 77 71 75 294 P Fulke (Swe) 75 77 73 69, M Gronberg (Swe) 74 70 79 71, P Senior (Aus) 73 77 72 72 295 L Parsons (Aus) 78 72 75 70, D Paulson (USA) 75 71 72 77, C Franco (Par) 69 77 71 78 297 S Verplank (USA) 71 80 76 70, D Hart (USA) 72 76 73 76 298 S Maruyama (Jpn) 71 77 78 72, T Van der Walt (Rsa) 76 73 75 74 303 Kyi Hla Han (Myanmar) 75 74 77 77 Retired E Els (Rsa), R Mediate (USA), J Parnevik (Swe)

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