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Singh ends Els' run as match play champion

Ernie Els couldn't gauge his distance, and it cost him a chance to win his fourth straight World Match Play title Sunday.

Vijay Singh beat him 1-up, ending Els' 11-match unbeaten streak in the tournament.Neither Singh nor Els could get the measure of the wet fairways and spongy greens at the Wentworth Club, soaked by all-day rain Saturday and half-dried by gusty winds Sunday.

In the 18-hole third-place match, Brad Faxon defeated Nick Price of Zimbabwe 5 and 4.

"We didn't play as good as we can," said Singh, who avenged a 3 and 2 loss to Els in last year's final.

"In match play, you have to just play better than your opponent, which I did."

"I could have broken a couple of clubs," the usually laid-back Els said. "I just didn't feel very comfortable chipping the ball today.

"The greens were soft and you'd try and skip it though. Every time I tried to do that. it stopped on me.

"All day I never played like I played the last three years on this golf course. It's just a pity I didn't play well. I guess it had to stop sometime. It was just a pity it had to come to an end this way."

Singh, taking advantage as Els struggled to find his rhythm over the first 18, was up by three holes after a 2-under 70 as Els shot 73 on the West Course at Wentworth.

Els, "just hanging on," he said, cut slowly into Singh's lead and squared the match for the second and final time at the par-5 30th hole with a 4-foot birdie putt.

The par-4 33rd turned out to be the decisive hole. Els, probably picking a club too short, hit his second shot into a greenside bunker. His wedge out of the sand landed 7 feet away and he missed the par putt.

"Ernie lost one on the 33rd, which gave me breathing space," said Singh, who finished with a 71 to Els' 69.

Needing to win the final hole, Els hit his approach into the sand as Singh hit the green with a similar 190-yard iron shot.

"Once I knocked it on the green, I knew it was pretty much done," said Singh, who received $283,500 for the victory.

Singh found it difficult to judge the importance of this win. It was his fourth this season, following the South African Open, Memorial and Buick Open.

On the one hand, it's called the World Match Play - although Els was the only one of the four major winners to be playing.

On the other, the 34-year-old event has been won by the game's greatest players - Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros and Ian Woosnam.

"I read about Player and Irwin when it was the Piccadilly World Match Play," the 34-year-old Fijian said. "I dreamed of playing it one day, and here I am winning it."

Michelob Championship

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - David Duval, a seven-time runner-up on the PGA Tour, made a 10-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a three-man playoff Sunday and won the Michelob Championship, his first career victory.

Duval's putt, after Duffy Waldorf took a 5 and Grant Waite left a long birdie try about 18 inches short on the par-4 18th, was worth $279,000.

"I don't know what to say," Duval said. "I guess the anticipation was great, obviously. At the same time, I felt like my time would come."

All three finished with 13-under-par 271 totals on the 6,797-yard River Course at Kingsmill Golf Club, Duval and Waite after final-round 67s, Waldorf after a 70.

All three came into the final round with demons of Sunday to battle. Duval and Waite were tied for 134th place on tour with final-round scoring averages of 71.94, and Waldorf was a shot worse that that, 175th on tour.

Earlier this year, Duval used a third-round 62 to take a three-shot lead into the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. But on Sunday, he fell back to a 71 and wound up second to Mark O'Meara by one shot.

And in May, he started the final round of the BellSouth Classic tied for the lead with Scott McCarron. But while McCarron shot a 69 in the final pairing of the day, Duval stumbled to a 72 and again wound up second.

This time, Duval stumbled briefly, recovered nicely and then waited.

Playing two groups ahead of Waldorf and Waite, Duval broke out of a four-way tie for the lead with an 18-foot birdie putt on the 12th, then made a 24-footer for eagle on the par-5 15th to open a three-shot lead.

But he gave one shot back when he hit his approach over the 16th green and failed to get up and down, parred out and then could only wait.

Waldorf, the leader after each of the first three rounds, made three straight birdies beginning on 14, finally getting a share of the lead back with his winding 30-foot putt on the 427-yard 16th.

"I really didn't get my game going until the 14th hole," said Waldorf, who has won once on tour. "I felt like I was kind of out if it, but then my game came back."

Waite, three strokes back and seemingly out of it with eight holes to play, made four birdies in a six-hole span beginning on No. 11, and missed a chance to win it in regulation when his 20-foot putt on No. 18 was way off.

"I completely misread it," he said. "It wasn't even close."

Waldorf and Waite each picked up a check for $136,400.

It was the first career playoff for all three, and the fifth of the year on tour. The last one was at the Shell Houston Open in May.