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Singh Gets In Gear, Takes Honda

Vijay Singh, helped by an early eagle, shot a final-round 69 Sunday and took advantage when Eric Booker's game collapsed on the back nine to win the Honda Classic by two shots.

Booker had led since Friday, and his margin was four shots with 10 holes to go. But the 35-year-old tour rookie had double bogeys on Nos. 10 and 16 and shot a 5-over-par 77, including a 42 on the back nine.

Singh overcame another day of strong winds at the TPC at Heron Bay to finish at 277, 11 under par. Payne Stewart shot 70-279 to take second place in the tournament for the fifth time.

Booker tied for third at 280 with Mark O'Meara, Carlos Franco and Doug Dunakey. O'Meara, the defending Masters and Open champion, bogeyed two holes coming in to fall out of contention.

Singh, who began the day five shots behind, eagled the par-5, 602-yard No. 4, which played downwind. He also made three birdies and two bogeys. The reigning PGA champion, who finished second at Honda last year behind Mark Calcavecchia, won $468,000 for his eighth tour title.

Winds gusting at more than 25 mph sent scores soaring, especially among the final threesome. Tommy Tolles and Bradley Hughes, paired with Booker, began the day two shots behind but faded badly. Tolles finished at 77-282, and Hughes shot 80-285.

All three players were seeking their first tour title.

Singh sank a curling 25-foot birdie putt on No. 15 to close to within two strokes. He took the lead when Booker chunked a fairway iron into a bunker on the par-5 16th hole, laid up and three-putted from the fringe for a 7.

That dropped Booker one shot behind Singh, who was playing two groups ahead on the final hole, which he parred.

Divots:

  • Stewart had a small cancerous growth removed from near his right temple last week. He played wearing a bandage over his stitches. Stewart was also a runner-up in the tournament in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1997.
  • Calcavecchia, the champion in 1987 and 1998, has been struggling on the greens and used a long putter Sunday, with little success. He shot a 7-over 79 to finish at 295.
  • Ernie Els, ranked third in the world, finished at 74-228.
  • First-round leader Hal Sutton shot 69-282.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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