Hero World Challenge: Henrik Stenson edges out Jon Rahm as Tiger Woods fades
Stenson comes close to albatross en route to first win since 2017 as closing 66 pips a fast-finishing Rahm to the post
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 07/12/19 8:56pm
Henrik Stenson held off Ryder Cup team-mate Jon Rahm to clinch a one-shot victory at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
Tiger Woods looked on course to claim his first win in his own event for eight years when he held the solo lead on the front nine, but the tournament host faltered down the stretch as Stenson's stunning eagle at the 15th proved the decisive moment on the final day.
Rahm had earlier surged into the mix when he also eagled 15 in between birdies at the 14th and 16th, but the Spaniard would come up one shot short of a successful defence as Stenson's closing 66 earned him his first victory since 2017.
The Swede, who has slipped to 40th in the world rankings having not posted a top-10 finish since August, opened his final round with a birdie and added two more at seven and eight, although he then got into trouble at the long ninth and bogeyed to slip to 14 under.
But Stenson rallied with birdies at the 10th and 13th, and he then hit one of the shots of the tournament at the par-five 15th - a towering 260-yard fairway-wood which bounded onto the green and rolled to within a couple of inches of the cup for a tap-in eagle.
And with Rahm in the clubhouse on 17 under, Stenson negotiated the final three holes with his trademark ice-cool demeanour and parred safely home, nervelessly two-putting from 50 feet on the final green to seal a welcome win - his first silverware since the Wyndham Championship over two years ago.
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Rahm's late burst ensured outright second place, although the 25-year-old is certain not to be overly disappointed at missing out as he prepares for his wedding next week.
Patrick Reed, still stung by widespread criticism of his flirtation with the rules on Friday which incurred a two-shot penalty, also launched a late dash at the title when he followed birdies at 10 and 11 with three in a row from the 15th.
But the significance of his third-round penalty was stark as his defiant 66 left him two strokes adrift of the champion, with Woods ending up four behind after a disappointing final seven holes.
Three birdies in five holes on the front nine had taken the Masters champion into pole position, and he added another at the 11th before he had to dig deep to scramble a bogey at the 14th, where his escape from a greenside bunker scuttled through the green and his initial pitch failed to reach the putting surface.
Woods did well to limit the damage to a five, but his race was run as he parred home to return a 69 before preparing to hand over the trophy to the victorious Swede.
Local resident Justin Rose atoned for a frustrating week with a rousing final 18 holes, carding nine birdies in a 65 that lifted him to 13 under and into a tie for fifth with Justin Thomas, who also spent time in the lead when he finished the front nine with three birdies in four holes before holing for eagle at the 11th.
But Thomas, playing alongside Woods, bogeyed 13 and ran up a six at the last following a trip to the water hazard in a disappointing end to a 70, while overnight leader Gary Woodland failed to recover from a horrendous start as he dropped four shots in three holes early on.
The US Open champion stumbled to the turn in 40 before lifting his spirits with five birdies on the back nine, although a bogey at the last was somewhat apt as a 73 left him six shots behind Stenson.