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Order of Merit goes to Karlsson

[By PAUL LOGOTHETIS
Associated Press

SOTOGRANDE, Spain — Robert Karlsson became the first Swede to win the Order of Merit title when closest challenger Lee Westwood couldn’t catch Soren Kjeldsen at the Volvo Masters on Sunday.

Westwood needed a victory at Valderrama to have any chance of claiming his second European money title, but shot a 1-over 72 to finish four shots behind winner Kjeldsen.

Karlsson lifted the Harry Vardon trophy despite finishing 32nd at Valderrama — 17 strokes behind Kjeldsen — after shooting a 75.

“It has been a fantastic season. This is a great day for Swedish golf,” Karlsson said after learning that fellow Swede Annika Sorenstam had won the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in China.

Kjeldsen became the third wire-to-wire champion at the Volvo Masters after a 71 gave him an 8-under 276 total for a two-shot victory over England’s Anthony Wall (69) and Martin Kaymer (68) of Germany. Westwood finished tied for third with Spain’s Sergio Garcia (72).

It was the fifth consecutive year a different player had claimed the Order of Merit, with Karlsson’s consistent season providing the difference.

The Ryder Cup player said it was the most difficult weekend of his 17-year career as he spent most of the weekend watching a scoreboard missing his own name.

“It was definitely affecting me. (But) I’m not going to feel ashamed by finishing where I did, definitely not. The Order of Merit is played during the entire season, not one tournament,” said Karlsson, who put his improved play in 2008 down to patience.

But he said that peaking for the majors was his next priority.

“I’m not going to start focusing on the results when I got to where I am by focusing on what I can do, and I will keep doing that,” said Karlsson, who finished outside of the top-20 in only six of 23 events he competed in while winning twice.

A poor start by both Padraig Harrington and Miguel Angel Jimenez left Westwood as the only serious threat coming into the final round.

But the Englishman’s charge fell flat at the seventh after he sprayed his shot from beneath one of the twisting cork trees into a side bunker and missed a 3-footer to save par.

Sand came into play again at the short par-4 eighth when the 2000 Order of Merit winner sent a pitch into the front bunker and came out short. Westwood missed right from 15 feet for a second consecutive bogey to fall four back of Kjeldsen, who was even at the turn.

Kaymer made a charge from No. 9 as he ran off three birdies over the next four holes to get to within one of the Dane thanks to some deft chipping at No. 11 and a 15 foot birdie putt at the par-3 12th.

“It was very nice to see Kaymer doing very well,” Karlsson said. “It’s much better to see a few guys up their challenging than just one.”

But Kjeldsen, who lost to Justin Rose in a playoff last year, pitched to within six feet at No. 11 for a birdie and to within 10 feet at the next hole for another birdie.

Kaymer saw a 10-foot birdie chance at No. 14 lip out and then missed a par putt to drop three back with three holes to play. Although Wall made a late charge, there was never really any doubt as to the winner and Kjeldsen kept his nerve for a second career victory and first for five years.

Harrington, winner of both the British Open and PGA Championship this year, needed a top-two finish to claim his second Order of Merit title in three years but never really got going.

“I left myself with all of the shots out there, all the way through today, especially the last three rounds. I probably wasn’t quite prepared coming into it and that’s it. The game was not quite there this week,” said the Irishman, who bowed out with a best round of 68 to finish at 2 over for the week — 10 behind Kjeldsen.

Final scores with relation to par from the Volvo Masters, played Oct. 30-Nov. 2 at the par-71, 6,988-yard Valderrama Golf Club inSotogrande, Spain (Note: earnings in euros):

1. Soren Kjeldsen E708,000
65-71-69-71–276

-8 2. Martin Kaymer 369,000
73-70-67-68–278

-6 2. Anthony Wall 369,000
69-69-71-69–278

-6 4. Sergio Garcia 196,000
68-70-70-72–280

-4 4. Lee Westwood 196,000
70-68-70-72–280

-4 6. David Lynn 148,400
69-73-70-69–281

-3 7. Richard Green 127,000
73-70-72-67–282

-2 8. Anders Hansen 100,500
74-69-69-71–283

-1 8. Graeme McDowell 100,500
72-70-74-67–283

-1 10. Peter Hedblom 85,000
71-74-72-67–284

E 11. Darren Clarke 76,350
71-69-72-73–285
+ 1 11. Ross Fisher 76,350
76-70-70-69–285
+ 1 13. Markus Brier 61,286
72-69-74-71–286
+ 2 13. Robert-Jan Derksen 61,286
72-70-72-72–286
+ 2 13. Soren Hansen 61,286
74-71-70-71–286
+ 2 13. Peter Hanson 61,286
72-69-73-72–286
+ 2 13. Padraig Harrington 61,286
76-71-71-68–286
+ 2 13. Andres Romero 61,286
74-72-68-72–286
+ 2 13. Steve Webster 61,286
72-71-73-70–286
+ 2 20. Francesco Molinari 53,600
74-73-74-66–287
+ 3 21. Alexander Noren 52,200
74-74-73-67–288
+ 4 22. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano 50,100
73-74-67-75–289
+ 5 22. Colin Montgomerie 50,100
73-76-68-72–289
+ 5 24. Miguel Angel Jimenez 48,000
73-80-70-67–290
+ 6 25. Gregory Bourdy 44,500
73-75-71-72–291
+ 7 25. Oliver Fisher 44,500
73-71-73-74–291
+ 7 25. David Howell 44,500
73-71-75-72–291
+ 7 25. Thomas Levet 44,500
71-68-75-77–291
+ 7 29. Felipe Aguilar 40,000
74-72-70-76–292
+ 8 29. Paul Casey 40,000
73-68-73-78–292
+ 8 29. Ian Poulter 40,000
76-76-67-73–292
+ 8 32. Robert Karlsson 37,500
73-73-72-75–293
+ 9 32. Paul Lawrie 37,500
76-72-75-70–293
+ 9 34. Nick Dougherty 34,000
78-73-70-73–294
+ 10 34. Simon Dyson 34,000
72-68-81-73–294
+ 10 34. Ignacio Garrido 34,000
74-75-73-72–294
+ 10 34. Jean-Francois Lucquin 34,000
77-74-70-73–294
+ 10 34. Alvaro Quiros 34,000
78-76-71-69–294
+ 10 39. Pablo Larrazabal 29,500
73-79-73-70–295
+ 11 39. Peter Lawrie 29,500
75-79-69-72–295
+ 11 39. Rory Mcilroy 29,500
74-73-75-73–295
+ 11 39. Hennie Otto 29,500
70-77-74-74–295
+ 11 43. Gregory Havret 27,000
76-75-67-78–296
+ 12 44. Mark Brown 26,000
75-77-71-74–297
+ 13 45. Henrik Stenson 25,000
74-75-72-77–298
+ 14 46. Oliver Wilson 24,000
75-77-75-72–299
+ 15 47. John Bickerton 22,550
74-73-75-78–300
+ 16 47. Paul McGinley 22,550
76-78-76-70–300
+ 16 49. Damien McGrane 21,200
74-75-73-79–301
+ 17 50. James Kingston 19,850
76-78-75-73–302
+ 18 50. Scott Strange 19,850
76-74-73-79–302
+ 18 52. Richard Finch 18,500
74-77-76-76–303
+ 19 53. Jose Manuel Lara 17,900
77-76-77-75–305
+ 21 54. Charl Schwartzel 16,700
77-76-76-79–308
+ 24 54. Jeev Milkha Singh 16,700
74-77-75-82–308
+ 24 54. Graeme Storm 16,700
77-79-71-81–308
+ 24

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