Swede Chopra seals playoff victory at Kapalua

Sun Jan 6, 2008 11:55pm EST
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KAPALUA, Hawaii (Reuters) - Swede Daniel Chopra held his nerve in fading light to beat American Steve Stricker in a playoff for the PGA Tour's season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship on Sunday.

The Stockholm native birdied the fourth extra hole at Kapalua Resort's Plantation Course to earn the winner's cheque for $1.1 million and his second Tour title.

Both players missed birdie opportunities from around six feet at the first playoff hole before Chopra sealed victory with a two-putt birdie at the par-five ninth, his eagle attempt having come to rest on the edge of the cup.

It was the seventh playoff in the last 14 years at the event which brings together the title-holders from the previous Tour season.

The pair had completed the 72 regulation holes in 18-under-par 274 on a sun-kissed day on the Hawaiian island of Maui, Chopra carding a 66 and Stricker finishing birdie-birdie-par-birdie for a 64.

"It was unbelievable," a beaming Chopra told reporters after delivering a master class with his putter to book his place at the Masters for the first time.

"What a great round I played today. I kept making birdies and I tried to avoid looking up at the board. I looked a couple of times and I saw I had the lead and then I looked up again and all of a sudden Stricker kept making them (birdies).

Chopra, who had narrowly missed a 13-footer to seal victory at the 72nd hole, fell agonisingly short with a 24-footer for birdie on the second extra hole.

"All those putts in the playoff and in regulation, I thought I hit superb strokes," he added.   Continued...

<p>Daniel Chopra of Sweden tees off on the third hole during the final round of the Mercedes- Benz Championship golf tournament in Kapalua, Hawaii, January 6, 2008. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry</p>