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Ilonen claims World Match Play
19 Oct 2014 17:05
Mikko Ilonen became the first Finnish player to win the Volvo World Match Play Championship on Sunday after a hard-fought victory over top seed Henrik Stenson at The London Club.
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Ilonen carded four birdies and no bogeys despite the windy conditions to win 3&1 and secure the first prize of €650,000, almost double his previous biggest payday from winning the Irish Open in June.
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Stenson, who had not led at any stage of his morning semi-final against George Coetzee before making a birdie on the 18th to win, claimed an early lead in the final with a birdie on the fourth.
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However, the world number five then bogeyed the fifth and hit his tee shot into the water on the eighth, before birdies on the 10th and 12th took Ilonen three up.
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Stenson, still seeking his first win since the DP World Tour Championship in November last year which meant he became the first man to win the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai in the same season, refused to throw in the towel and birdied the 13th to reduce his deficit.
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But after almost holing his chip from the back of the 14th green, the Swede could only look on as Ilonen holed from 12 feet for birdie to move three ahead again, this time with just four holes remaining.
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Stenson fought back once more with a two-putt birdie on the par-five 15th, but was unable to birdie either of the next two holes as Ilonen - who had beaten Joost Luiten 2&1 in the semi-finals - secured the biggest win of his career.
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