Westner wins at the last

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The Independent Online

South Africa's Wayne Westner sank a 10-foot putt on the 18th green to win the FNB Players Championship yesterday, but the final round in Durban was disap- pointing for England's Paul Eales.

Westner held off the inspired challenge of Argentina's Jose Coceres, whose magnificent inward 31 for a final round of 65 whittled Westner's overnight six-shot advantage over him down to a single stroke by the last hole.

Eales - four shots behind Westner in second place at the start of the day - continued to strike his irons with unerring accuracy. However, his birdie putts would not drop until the last green, where he holed a 25- footer to claim third place.

Eales' compatriot, Ross McFarlane, and Northern Ireland's David Feherty posted 67s to share fourth place with Italy's Costantino Rocca, who had a 66.

Coceres chose his driver at the 273-yard par-four 18th and finished pin- high in a greenside bunker. Westner took a one-iron for safety and finished 60 yards short of the green.

Both men played excellent second shots with Westner pitching to 10ft and Coceres landing only a fraction further from the flag. When Coceres holed his putt, he joined Westner at the top of the leaderboard, but only for a few seconds.

Westner's putt gave him a two-under-par 70 for a winning total of 270, 18 under par on the course where he won the South African Open in 1988 and 1991.

The day had threatened to go horribly wrong for the South African when he dropped shots at the eighth and ninth holes for a two-over-par outward 38. Coceres picked up four shots on him with a 34.

FNB PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP (Durban) Final scores (SA unless stated): 270 W Westner 66 67 67 70. 271 J Coceres (Arg) 66 71 69 65. 274 P Eales (Eng) 69 70 65 70. 275 C Rocca (It) 69 69 71 66; D Feherty (N Irl) 69 70 69 67; R McFarlane (Eng) 67 74 67 67. 276 D Frost 72 67 69 68. 277 M McNulty (Zim) 72 69 69 67; A Coltart (Sco) 71 69 67 70. 278 D Pappas 72 68 71 67; I Garrido (Sp) 69 72 69 68; T Johnstone (Zim) 70 69 70 69; A Sherborne (Eng) 70 70 68 70; E Els 69 71 67 71; C Suneson (Eng) 68 72 67 71. 279 S Woods (US) 71 70 68 70.

n The former Open champion Ian Baker-Finch broke 70 for the first time for 17 months yesterday as Peter Senior won the Canon Challenge for a second time. Senior fought off challenges from five players over the final round to shoot a three-under par 69 to win by two strokes from fellow Australians Robert Allenby, Brad King and Robert Willis. Baker-Finch was given a rousing reception as he walked the last fairway of the Terrey Hills course on the way to a 69 - his best round since a 68 in the Queensland Open in October 1994 where he had last made the halfway cut. It came after earlier rounds of 78, 70 and 73 that saw him tie for 33rd place with a two-over-par aggregate of 290.