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Choi battles for wire-to-wire win

HONOLULU, Hawaii (AP) — K.J. Choi held off a late challenge from Rory Sabbatini to complete a wire-to-wire victory at the Sony Open, winning by three strokes in blustery conditions at Waialae Country Club on Sunday.

Equipped with a four-shot lead, the Korean closed with a one-over 71 as he became the first man in 41 years to win the event with a final round over par.

South Africa’s Sabbatini fired six birdies in his 68 but a double-bogey at the par-four eighth hole and other dropped shots at the fifth and 15th left him with too much ground to make up, having started the day six strokes off the lead.

All things considered, I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season, Sabbatini said.

His birdie at the 16th left him two behind Choi, who settled down with a par from just off the same green and a chip that caught part of the cup on the 17th.

Choi dropped shots at the fourth and 13th holes, but picked up his only birdie of the day at the final hole to close with a total of 14-under 266 and claim his seventh victory on the PGA Tour and the winner’s purse of $954,000.

He is the first player to lead the event from start to finish since Paul Azinger in 2000.

I can’t remember having such a difficult round as today, Choi said.It was very difficult conditions out there. I told myself, ‘Try not to lose focus.’

When I made that three-putt (at 13), that really woke me up. It was kind of like medicine. It woke me up and I said, ‘I have to hang in there, not fall apart.’ It motivated me.

The 37-year-old has now won a tournament for the fourth consecutive season — Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh are the only other players with active streaks that long.

Jerry Kelly closed with a bogey-free 67 to finish alone in third on 270, one behind Sabbatini.

He came into the week at No. 64 in the world rankings, and he will move into the mid-50s with only four weeks before the deadline to qualify for the Accenture Match Play Championship.

I’m aware of that, but I’m not worried about it, the American said. I’ve always paid too much attention to everything. I’m trying to get away from the future and the past, because I’ve handled both of them poorly.

Being lulled to sleep for three days made it tougher. If we would have been facing this all week, we might have seen more rounds like that. I’ll tell you, I’d hate to be a rookie and just all of a sudden see this place Sunday.

One such rookie was Tim Wilkinson, the 29-year-old from New Zealand playing in only his third PGA Tour event, and starting off in the final group with Choi after a third-round 62.

Wilkinson started off with a bogey and it went badly from there as he shot 78 to tie for 25th.

Steve Stricker birdied the last hole for a 70 and finished in a tie for fourth with Stephen Marino (72), Pat Perez (70) and Kevin Na, who made eagle on the final hole for a 72.
Choi battles for wire-to-wire win – found here.

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January 14, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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