Victory at the last for Faldo

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The Independent Online
After three days of mandatory birdies, the Doral Open played like a US Open yesterday, finally giving Nick Faldo conditions to thrive in. And despite some clumsy golf on the final hole, Nick Faldo finally won a US PGA Tour event, his first in America since the 1990 Masters.

Faldo shot a final three-under 69 for a 15-under-par total, to win by a stroke over Greg Norman and Peter Jacobsen, who had started the final round as co-leaders, three strokes ahead of Faldo, and who both shot 73.

There are few sights in golf more gratifying than reaching the 18th a stroke behind and seeing the leader ahead of you, standing by the lake with his arm outraised, preparing to drop.

That was the sight that greeted Norman, who had just missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to tie Faldo. Faldo, one shot ahead of Norman, had just hit his drive into the water on the difficult par-four finishing hole.

He recovered well, hitting a great third shot, a high cut over the water that landed beautifully on the narrow green, 25 feet from the cup. Faldo made a good two-putt for bogey to drop back to Norman's score of 15 under.

Just when a play-off seemed inevitable, Norman came through with a shot that made Faldo's drive seem like a considered ploy. Norman's drive had ended up in the rough near the lake, but his second shot went almost far to the left, nearly hitting the floating scoreboard in the middle of the lake.

Faldo then found Norman with his arm outstretched, dropping a ball and attempting to hole his fourth from the fairway to stay tied for the lead. Norman failed, and then Peter Jacobsen failed to sink a 100-foot putt to force a play-off, giving Faldo his second non-major US title, the first being 11 years ago at the Heritage Classic.

Faldo has had mixed results in his first four tournaments since rejoining the tour, missing the cut in his last event after a disastrous mid-round switch from cross-handed to conventional putting.

But he never stopped working, spending at least an hour every day after his rounds this week on the practice green. He credited coach David Leadbetter for giving him an effective new putting drill: "I kept plugging away all week. Sixteen under was the number I had in my head, and I kept pushing for that. I was nearly right."

DORAL OPEN (Miami) Leading final scores (US unless stated): 273 N Faldo (Eng) 67 71 66 69. 274 P Jacobsen 68 69 64 73; G Norman (Aus) 68 68 65 73. 275 J Leonard 68 68 71 68; S Elkington (Aus) 67 72 67 69; D Love III 65 69 70 71. 276 H Irwin 70 70 67 69; W Austin 66 71 68 71. 277 S Stricker 70 68 71 68. 278 S Lowery 65 72 73 68; M O'Meara 69 72 66 71. 279 M McCumber 70 71 69 69; M Bradley 70 73 67 69; V Singh (Fiji) 70 70 67 72; J Sluman 69 67 70 73; F Allem (SA) 66 71 68 74. 280 C Montgomerie (Sco) 72 68 68 72; E Els (SA) 74 67 70 69; S Verplank 65 76 70 69; R Floyd 72 71 68 69; N Ozaki (Jap) 72 71 68 69; J Haas 69 69 70 72; D Duval 67 72 68 73; L Clements 70 70 67 73; D Hart 71 67 68 74; B Glasson 68 68 70 74. Selected: 281 J Parnevik (Swe) 71 66 74 70. 283 B Langer (Ger) 69 71 71 72.

Cejka holds nerve, page 31

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