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Stenson to face Ilonen in decider
19 Oct 2014 12:12
Henrik Stenson will face Mikko Ilonen in the final of the Volvo World Match Play Championship after the pair came through two hard-fought semi-finals at The London Club.
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Stenson was never ahead against South Africa's George Coetzee until making a birdie to win the match on the 18th, while Ilonen beat an off-form Joost Luiten 2&1.
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Birdies on the first and seventh took Ilonen two up but a tee shot into the water on the eighth and a bogey on the 11th allowed Luiten to draw level despite having recorded 11 straight pars.
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The Dutchman had been the only player to win all three of his group matches but managed just one birdie in the match to take the lead on the 13th, only to promptly three-putt the next.
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Ilonen was lucky to narrowly clear the water with his approach to the 15th but took full advantage of his good fortune, holing from 25 feet for a birdie before Luiten missed from half the distance.
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And another lengthy birdie putt on the 17th secured the win for Irish Open champion Ilonen, who admitted neither player had been at their best.
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"That really could have gone either way," Ilonen said. "We did not play our best and I think it was the early start for the first time this week that put us off a little bit. We were still asleep. I managed to make two long putts and that was the difference."
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Stenson hit his approach to the opening hole into the water and went two down when Coetzee birdied the second, but hit back with birdies on the fourth and eighth to get back to all square.
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Coetzee, who only got into the event on Monday as a late replacement for the injured Thomas Bjorn, then took the lead on three more occasions only to be pegged back each time, Stenson crucially holing from 25 feet for an eagle on the 15th.
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Coetzee was agonisingly close to holing his birdie putt from 20 feet on the 18th before Stenson made no mistake from a similar distance.
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