American Duval wins Dunlop Phoenix

Sunday, November 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIYAZAKI, Japan (AP) _ American David Duval frittered away a six-shot lead over the final six holes before winning the 200 million Dunlop Phoenix (dlrs 1.7 million) tournament in a playoff on Sunday.

Duval made a four-putt double bogey at the 17th hole, before parring the last to shoot two-under-par 69 and tie Japan's Taichi Teshima (65) at the end of the regulation 72 holes at Phoenix Country Club.

They finished at 15-under 269, five strokes ahead of last year's champion, Shingo Katayama, and Australian Scott Laycock.

British Open champion Duval won the playoff at the first extra hole, the par-five 18th, where he almost holed a bunker shot from 60 feet, before tapping in for birdie.

``It was very important for me to come over here and win on foreign soil,'' said Duval, who will team with Tiger Woods at the World Cup starting in Gotemba on Thursday.

``It was a little ugly at the end but I won. I was aware I was five or six shots ahead (with six holes remaining) but it almost wasn't enough.

``I thought I was playing well enough to get to 20 or 21 under. I wanted to win by a lot of shots.''

Duval bogeyed the 14th hole, and after Teshima _ playing ahead _ reeled off a hat-trick of birdies starting at the 14th suddenly the gap was only two strokes.

Duval still appeared in control until the par-three 17th, where his tee shot stopped 35 feet from the hole.

He hit his first putt too softly, leaving himself a tricky, downhill five-footer to save par, which he failed to hole. He then missed a three-footer coming back up the hill.

``I made a mistake not hitting my first putt by the hole,'' he said. ``I should never have left it short. I've (four-putted) before. I don't remember the last time, but I've done it.''

Duval still had a chance to win in regulation, but missed a downhill 12-foot putt at the last.

Returning to the 18th for the playoff, Duval's drive found the fairway, from where he hit a three-iron into a greenside bunker.

Teshima's drive, meanwhile, stopped next to a tree, leaving him with a severely restricted backswing. He could only advance the ball about 100 yards, and his third shot found the same bunker as Duval.

Needing to hole out from the bunker to match Duval's birdie, Japan Open champion Teshima hit a good shot, but didn't get the miracle he needed.

``When I was six shots back, I was only thinking of trying to finish second,'' Teshima said. ``I never expected David to back up. He is a top ranked player.''