Date: May 11, 2009
Author: PA Sport

Baddeley storms home

Aaron Baddeley completed an amazing turnaround to rocket into a share of ninth place as Henrik Stenson landed the biggest victory of his career with a commanding final round at TPC Sawgrass to take The Players Championship. The Australian&aposs 76 on Saturday left him in last place but a final-round six-under 66 on Sunday saw him soar up the leaderboard to tie with Vijay Singh, another former straggler who turned in a 67, and overnight leader Cejka, who collapsed with a 79. Stenson was one of six men, also including world No.1 Tiger Woods and England&aposs Ian Poulter, to start the day in a tie for second place at six-under, with Cejka of Germany five shots in front of them at 11-under. Yet as Cejka imploded and Woods faltered in the final group of the day, Stenson played brilliant golf to shoot a six-under round of 66 and become only the third European in the tournament&aposs 36-year history, following Sandy Lyle in 1987 and Sergio Garcia 12 months ago. Poulter finished second after a final-round 70 which took him to eight-under, his second top-five finish in a row but still short of his first PGA Tour victory, with Americans John Mallinger and Kevin Na third at seven-under. England&aposs Brian Davis gave the European contingent more cheer as he took a share of fifth place on six-under with Americans Jim Furyk and Ben Crane with Woods alone in eighth at five-under following a 73, his first top-10 finish in the event since he won it in 2001. Robert Allenby finished a consistent tournament at three-under in a tie for 14th, while Geoff Ogilvy was a further shot back after a closing one-under 71. Once again temperatures soared as the leaders began their rounds, which in the third round had helped the greens quicken considerably, and the leaders were bracing for another testing day in the PGA Tour&aposs flagship event. Cejka, wearing all black in the Florida heat, made a bad start from which he could not recover, although the Czech-born German was not the only contender experiencing jitters in golf&aposs so-called &aposfifth major&apos. Woods hit a bad tee shot at the par-five second hole and found water with his second shot, while up ahead Retief Goosen dropped to five-under when he missed a par putt from inside seven feet. Then Poulter undid his good start with a bogey at the par-four fourth to return to five-under and Woods bogeyed the second. Cejka imploded with a run of double-bogey, bogey, bogey to fall to six-under while Woods was also in reverse at four-under after eight having bogeyed the fourth, birdied the sixth and bogeyed the seventh. Goosen strung together back to back birdies only to double bogey the par-four eighth to leave Stenson in the lead at eight-under after nine holes after the Swede birdied the seventh and ninth. Stenson was the only player left in the field still bogey-free in the final round and he stretched his lead to three strokes with birdies at the 11th and 13th to move to 10-under, three shots clear. Davis had also birdied the 11th to move up to joint second with Poulter and Crane at seven under, while American John Mallinger joined them with a birdie at the 14th. Goosen joined the party with birdies at the 11th and 12th but Crane dropped a shot at the 13th. Furyk entered the mix at six-under with a birdie at the 16th, his third on the back nine on the way to a final-round 69, while Cejka finally got into a groove with his first birdie of the day at the par-four 10th, where Woods bogeyed to slip to three-under, only for the German to bogey the 12th and return to five-under. Both Poulter and Mallinger narrowed the gap on Stenson to two strokes, the Englishman by sinking a birdie putt at the par-four 15th, while the American birdied the 16th. Mallinger&aposs playing partner Kevin Na also enjoyed the par-five 16th, which he eagled courtesy of a 51-foot putt. Mallinger finished with a 70 to close at seven-under, as did Na but Stenson was getting better and better. On Saturday he reached nine-under before losing three strokes over the last four holes but on his final trip round the Swede was inspired. At the 15th he blasted his three wood 302 yards and sent his approach shot to within three feet to hole out for a birdie which took him to 11-under. Another birdie at the 16th gave Stenson a four-shot cushion and when his tee shot on 17 found dry land, the Swede could finally look forward to the biggest victory of his career with Woods and a forlorn Cejka bringing up the rear as mere footnotes. Meanwhile, Argentina&aposs Daniel Vancsik took the BMW Italian Open by a runaway six strokes but American John Daly again stole the limelight as he stormed into a share of second place. Vancsik closed with a joint best-of-the-day 65, but from the depths of 794th in the world and a week after his 43rd birthday Daly lit up the event with more than just his trousers. This was the former Open champion&aposs second event back from a four-month lay-off. In November he was given a six-month US Tour ban after being thrown in jail to sober up and in February he underwent gastric band surgery after his weight ballooned to 20 stones. Daly added a 66 to his three opening rounds of 69 to share second with England&aposs Robert Rock and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin. Peter O&aposMalley finished in a tie for eighth at eight-under, while Marcus Fraser and Wade Ormsby were four shots further back. PGA Tour, Final Round of the Players Championship, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida -12: Henrik Stenson 68 69 73 66 -8: Ian Poulter 67 68 75 70 -7: John Mallinger 66 71 74 70, Kevin Na 71 66 74 70 -6: Ben Crane 65 73 72 72, Brian Davis 71 69 71 71, Jim Furyk 68 74 71 69 -5: Tiger Woods 71 69 70 73 -4: Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 71 71 76 66, Alex Cejka 66 67 72 79, Tim Clark 72 69 74 69, David Toms 67 70 77 70, Vijay Singh 71 72 74 67 -3: Robert Allenby (Australia), Daniel Chopra 75 65 72 73, Angel Cabrera 72 65 77 71, Paul Casey 70 69 76 70, Jeff Klauk 71 72 71 71, Matt Kuchar 72 72 73 68, Camilo Villegas 67 72 75 71, Mike Weir 72 72 73 68 Also: -2: Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 70 72 73 71 E: John Senden (Australia) 72 69 72 75 +2: Nick O Hern (Australia) 68 73 75 74