The Open Championship
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The Open - Day 4
David Duval claims first Major win
Woods challege fades after tripe bogey
Fasth claims second with closing 67
Putting problems cost Ernie Els
Nightmare clubs error costs Woosnam dear
Final day quotes and comments

David Duval claims first Major win

David Duval posted a brilliant final round of four-under-par 67 Sunday to capture the 130th Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. His 72-hole total of 10-under-par 274 earned him a three-shot victory and his first major championship title.

Duval was one of a handful of players who came into this event looking to shake the tag of best player without a major title. He did so emphatically with a sensational weekend, firing a third-round 65 to gain a share of the lead Saturday before his five-birdie, one-bogey effort over the last 18 holes lifted him to the career-defining win.

Duval two-putted for par at the 72nd hole to ensure his name would be the next one etched on the coveted Claret Jug.

"It's very surreal," said Duval, who became the sixth American in the last seven years to triumph at golf's oldest championship. "I never knew where I stood all day. I knew I was probably in the lead, but I didn't look and never saw it until I was on the green at 18.

"I thought I was either one or two ahead. I saw I was three and I was just overcome."

Sweden's Niclas Fasth, who grabbed the clubhouse lead hours earlier with a 67 of his own, finished alone in second place at seven-under 277. It was his first appearance in a major championship.

On a day that began with 23 players bunched within four shots of the four 54- hole leaders, Duval put a clamp on any hope of a final-day dogfight with a performance that was as unshakable as his sunglassed persona.

However, the race to the finish may have been tighter were it not for the tragic tale of Welshman Ian Woosnam.

The 1991 Masters champion, tied for the overnight lead with Duval, Bernhard Langer and Alex Cejka, barely had a chance to celebrate an opening birdie when he was informed he was being assessed a two-stroke penalty for having one too many clubs in his bag.

After the birdie was changed to a bogey, a rattled Woosnam dropped two more shots at the third and fourth holes. Though he regained his composure with some fine play in the middle of his round, he bogeyed two of the last four holes for an even-par 71 to join a six-way tie at minus-six.

"I did not really get it out of my head all the way around," said Woosnam, who had two drivers in his bag to put him over the legal limit of 14 clubs. "I kept thinking if I hadn't had a two-shot penalty, I could have been leading or been joint leader. I never shook it off."

Two other major winners finished with Woosnam at 278. 1994 and '97 U.S. Open champ Ernie Els shot 69, while Langer, a two-time Masters titlist, closed with a 71. Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke and American Billy Mayfair each had 70s to round out third place.

There were no last minute heroics by Tiger Woods, who has now finished out of the top-10 in four straight events for the first time since 1997.

Last year's winner at St. Andrews pulled within three of the top spot with a trio of birdies on the front side only to make a mess of the par-three 12th on his way to a triple-bogey.

"I didn't swing the club very well," said Woods. "I don't care what golf course you're playing, if you're not swinging the club well it's going to be tough. Unfortunately, I paid the price for just not having my mechanics the way I needed to have them."

The world's top-ranked golfer turned in a 71 to tie for 25th at one-under par, his worst showing in a major since he finished knotted in 29th at the 1997 PGA Championship.

Woods, whose win in April's Masters garnered him his second green jacket and fifth victory in the span of six majors, tied for 12th at last month's U.S. Open to end his quest to be the first to win five consecutive major titles.

Finland's Mikko Ilonen, the 2000 British Amateur champion, fired a 66 -- the low round of the day -- to finish alongside Kevin Sutherland (67), Sergio Garcia (70) and Jesper Parnevik (71) at five-under.

Colin Montgomerie and Phil Mickelson remained part of that group of stars still in search of the Big One.

Monty, clearly the crowd favorite this week, lost the halfway lead with a Saturday 73 and was over par again in the final round. He carded a 72 to finish six strokes off the pace with seven others, including Vijay Singh (69), U.S. Open victor Retief Goosen (71) and Germany's Cejka (73).

Mickelson, seven shots back with Duval, Els, Garcia and Goosen after two rounds, failed to make his presence felt over the final 36 holes. He wound up tied 30th with, among others, David Dixon, who was guaranteed the Silver Medal as leading amateur when he was the only non-professional to survive the cut on Friday.

Fasth was the early story when he made a two-footer at the par-five sixth for his third birdie of the day, tying him for the lead at six-under. He was soon alone in front after he birdied the par-five seventh, then stretched his lead to two with a two-putt birdie at the final par-five, the 11th.

Duval's 18-foot birdie at the third trimmed Fasth's edge to one. The two were soon neck-and-neck after Fasth failed to save par from six feet at 14, then Duval birdied the back-to-back par-fives to seize a two-shot advantage at nine-under par.

Fasth, who sank some important par putts over his final four holes, went on to record the biggest of his five top-10s this season.

"I played very well and gave it all I had," said Fasth, the 1996 European Tour Qualifying School medalist who captured his first tournament victory at the Madeira Island Open last year.

Although Duval managed to push his lead to three strokes after blasting of a bunker to set up a two-foot birdie at 11, he wasn't in the clear just yet.

Jimenez birdied the 13th to reach eight-under, leaving him just one off the lead when Duval couldn't get up and down out of a bunker to save par at the 12th. But the Spaniard found fairway traps that led to bogeys at 14 and 15, and Duval rolled in a birdie putt from seven feet at 13 to return to 10-under.

Clarke birdied the 16th to cut the margin to two, an interesting development when Duval drove way right at 14. Duval was able to muscle a wedge out of the rough to advance his ball to the edge of the green, from where he two-putted from about 80 feet for par.

Clarke wasn't as fortunate at 17. He hit into a fairway bunker and sent his second shot into the grandstand. After taking a free drop, Clarke knocked a sand wedge into a greenside trap, blasted out to three feet, then missed the putt and took double-bogey.

Duval, who missed left of the fairway at the 15th, pulled off some more magic when he landed his ball 18 feet from the cup. Two putts later he had another par, a process he repeated at 17 and 18 to seal the win.

The 29-year-old Duval came close to claiming major titles on a number of occasions, most notably the Masters in 1998, when Mark O'Meara closed with a surge to snatch the title, and the Masters this season, when Duval bogeyed the 16th and missed a four-foot birdie at the last to finish in second, two shots behind Woods.

"You get four chances each year, and you have to have a lot of things go right to even get into a position to win," said Duval, who collected $858,000 for his 13th career victory. "Then, you have to do it. There's no way around it."

 

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