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Rediff.com  » Sports » Jeev grabs Singapore Open victory

Jeev grabs Singapore Open victory

Last updated on: November 16, 2008 18:37 IST

India's Jeev Milkha Singh won a nail-biting Singapore Open on Sunday after Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els came agonisingly close to taking the US $5 million Asian Tour event to a playoff.

Singh, who virtually sealed the Asian order of merit title with the win, started the day five shots behind leader Chapchai Nirat of Thailand but three birdies on the front nine helped him to the top of the leaderboard at seven-under par.

Three-times major winner Harrington looked certain to force a playoff after a stunning fairway wood gave him the chance of birdie at the last, but the Irishman's five-foot putt leaked across the face of the hole.

"I couldn't have asked for better," the 36-year-old Singh said in a televised interview. "I'm a very fortunate man to win. The golfing gods were on my side."

Singh takes home a winner's cheque for $792,500 and becomes the first player on the Asian Tour to win more than $1 million in a single season. The Indian's earnings soared to more than $1.4 million with the Singapore victory.

"I was tired at the start of the week but when you get into the hunt for a title all the tiredness goes. That's when you just work on becoming stronger and focusing on what is in front of you," Singh said.

"I was happy I could win against the top players in the world and this will give me a lot of confidence to move on to better things."

'UNBELIEVABLE'

Els moved within a shot of leader Singh with a birdie at the 16th, but a poor tee-shot on 18 left him with too much to do and the South African's birdie putt veered away from the cup at the last second.

Els, who lost out in a playoff to Adam Scott two years ago and missed the cut in 2007 after a bout of food poisoning, said his fortunes turned on the greens.

"Missed putts on 15, which I thought was going in. Made one on 16, 17 looked like it was going in and 18 was unbelievable," said the 39-year-old.

"It shows that golf is just a game of inches. It could have stayed straight and I'm in the playoff.

"I'm just disappointed right now. I'll be back next year."

Irishman Harrington was left cursing his luck after some bad breaks over the closing holes denied him the chance of capping a magnificent year with a victory in Singapore.

He spent the day duelling with Singh but his final round 70 was good enough only for joint second with Els.

"I hit a lovely shot into 16 that resulted in a double bogey and a lovely shot at the last that was about six inches away from being a short putt for eagle," said Harrington.

"But that's the way golf goes. I holed the right putts at the right time this year and I may not feel good about this for a few hours but I am still delighted with my year."

Thailand's Chapchai started the final round at 10-under par, three ahead of local hope Lam Chih Bing, but his challenge crumbled with a barrage of bogeys. The stocky Thai slumped to a seven-over-par 78 and a share of seventh place.

World number three Phil Mickelson also had a disappointing fourth round, which included an ugly triple-bogey eight, and finished the tournament five shots behind the winner, while Singapore's Lam carded a shocking eight-over 79.

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