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Friday, 19 March 2010
Vijay Singh claimed the final major title of the year at Sahalee in Seattle by edging out American Steve Stricker to become US PGA Champion.

The 35 year old Fijian's first name in Hindu stands for 'victory' - and Singh has managed to live up to that label by becoming a prolific winner all over the world.

Now he has added that elusive first major to his seven European Tour victories and last season's Toyota World Matchplay Championship.

Singh used a combination of luck and extraordinary skill on the tree-lined Washington State course to extinguish the challenge of Stricker and 1995 champion Steve Elkington of Australia.

He closed with a final round of 68 for a nine under par total of 271 to land the first prize of $540,000 by two strokes from Stricker (70) and three from Elkington (67). Afterwards, as he cuddled eight year old son Qass Seth at the prizegiving ceremony, Singh admitted that it was the "greatest win" of his career, but also sportingly took time to praise his veteran Scots' caddie, Dave Renwick.

"I couldn't have done it without Dave. He kept me calm all day. Thanks a lot" said Singh of the caddie who was on hand to help Jose Maria Olazabal win the Masters and Elkington the PGA title three years ago.

Singh had led, or shared the lead, since the second round. First day honours went to Tiger Woods, who carded a four under par 66, the new course record at that time. The tall, slender Fijian matched Woods' 66 in the second round to move into the lead ahead of European No.1 Colin Montgomerie, who would have joined him on 136 but for a final hole bogey.

His round of 67, though, left the big Scot in a challenging position alongside Stricker (69, 68). However Montgomerie's charge fizzled out on Saturday as he shot 77, 10 strokes worse than Singh who went into the final round tied with Stricker on 203, seven under par.

Several players made a charge at the leaders on Sunday, most notably Mark O'Meara, attempting to become the first player since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win three major titles in the same year. He eagled the second and birdied the fourth to close the gap briefly to two shots but three successive bogeys ended his run.

Elkington birdied four of the last 10 holes to offer a challenge but dropped a stroke at the last to take third place on 274, one better than O'Meara, Frank Lickliter and two-time former champion, Nick Price, who equalled the record of 65 set by Greg Kraft the previous day.

Meanwhile Singh, aided by a birdie and eight pars on Sunday, turned in 34 to Stricker's 36 and at that stage opened up a two shot gap. He maintained his lead helped by a ricochet off a tree onto the green for a birdie at the 11th and a superbly executed shot from trees to save par at the 14th.

At the 17th both men were bunkered, but while Singh got up and down Stricker failed to make par and his chance had gone.

Singh, who finished with a safe par, commented: "I putted really nicely. That is the thing that was lacking in my golf game. To win a major was always a dream. Now it's come true".

Sweden's Per-Ulrik Johansson finished top European on 282, four over par, following a solid last round 68. Ian Woosnam closed with 72 for 284, Montgomerie 74 for 288, Nick Faldo 73 for 289, Robert Karlsson 73 for 292 and Andrew Coltart 74 for 294.

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