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Golf - Stenson wins World Challenge as Woods fades

Golf - Stenson wins World Challenge as Woods fades
FILE PHOTO: Golf - The 148th Open Championship - Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, Northern Ireland - July 20, 2019 Sweden's Henrik Stenson on the 1st hole during the third round REUTERS/Ian Walton/File Photo   -  
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IAN WALTON(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – Henrik Stenson almost made albatross at the 15th hole en route to a one-shot victory over Jon Rahm at the Hero World Challenge on Saturday as tournament host Tiger Woods faded down the stretch in the Bahamas.

Stenson hit a mighty approach shot from 260 yards that almost trickled in at the par-five, and the tap-in eagle gave him the sole lead from fast-finishing Rahm.

The Swede held his nerve down the stretch with three straight pars, carding six-under-par 66 at Albany Golf Club on the island of New Providence.

“I made some crucial par-saves on 11 and 14 and obviously shot of the day was that five-wood to a couple of inches on 15,” Stenson said in a greenside interview after finishing at 18-under 270.

His first victory in more than two years will be unofficial for record purposes on the PGA Tour due to the small 18-man field.

Defending champion Rahm, who also eagled the 15th, albeit with a 30-foot putt, shot 66 for second place.

Patrick Reed (66) was among five players in contention deep into the back nine.

The American finished two strokes adrift in third place, a two-shot penalty he received during the third round coming back to haunt him.

Woods was tied for the lead with five holes left but hit three poor shots in a row en route to a bogey at the 14th hole and was never a threat thereafter.

With a 69, he finished four shots back in fourth place in a final competitive sortie before leading the American team as a playing captain at the Presidents Cup in Australia next week.

Overnight leader Gary Woodland dropped four shots in the first four holes, shot 73 and came equal seventh.

BACK IN BUSINESS

Stenson, the 2016 British Open champion, had endured a mediocre year and was so disappointed with his 44th-place finish at the European Tour’s season-ending event in Dubai two weeks ago that he had a lesson with coach Pete Cowen.

“I came in with a better feeling,” said the 43-year-old.

“Still, confidence can be a little higher at times (but) I’m really happy with the way I hung in there on the back nine.”

He had dipped to 40th in the world but with the victory is projected to jump into the top 30.

“I’d been top-10 in the world for five or six years straight, so that’s where we want to be and I feel like when I’m playing to my potential I can certainly compete with the best,” he said.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond)

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