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Stenson spoils US party with bungled final hole

Henrik Stenson looked set to celebrate his 36th birthday in fine style at the 76th US Masters until he tossed away a hard-earned lead with a nightmare last hole at Augusta National on Thursday.

Stenson spoils US party with bungled final hole

Sweden’s Stenson, boosted by two eagles on the front nine, was atop the leaderboard by two strokes at the 18th tee, only to take a quadruple-bogey 8

on the closing hole and settle for a one-under par 71.

“It was a very disappointing finish,” Stenson said. “But I had good fun out there. I had two eagles and I got it going. I didn’t hit a fairway after 11. I hit it all over the place.”

Stenson still has not cracked 70 in 19 rounds at Augusta National.

“If you can’t get the ball in play off the tee you’re going to drop shots,” Stenson said.

“Playing out of the forest most of the back nine, it’s going to cost a little bit sooner or later — disappointing that it cost that much.”

Stenson’s eight matched the worst score ever recorded at Augusta National’s closing hole, the seventh time it had been shot there and the first since Colombia’s Camilo Villegas did it in 2007.

Just last year, Stenson took an 8 at the fourth for the worst score in Masters history at that par-3 hole.

“I didn’t expect it to cost as much as it did on 18,” Stenson said. “That’s normally what happens. You make a little mistake and then you compound it with another one and it just keeps on snowballing and I got the snowman in the end.”

Stenson eagled the par-5 third and seventh holes with 15-foot putts and birdied the par-4 fourth as well. After starting the back nine with a birdie, he went bogey-birdie on 14 and 15 but had a two-shot cushion at the par-4 18th.

On 18, Stenson hooked his tee shot left into trees and chipped out into a squishy footprint lie.

“It was like in a pretty worn spot in the pine needles where everybody has walked,” Stenson said.

“If I would have gotten the second shot out on the fairway, it would have been a different story.”

He hit into the right rough, went over the green into the green with his fourth shot, then chipped to the fringe.

“The worst part of 18 was really over-hitting the wedge and hitting it up in the crowds behind the green and then it took me four to get down from there,” Stenson said.

The Swede ran his downhill putt past the cup, then missed a three-footer coming back before tapping in to end the misery.

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GOLF

Sweden’s Noren storms to French Open title as fellow Swede Kinhult falters

Sweden's Alex Noren came back from a seven-shot overnight deficit to claim a dramatic French Open victory at Le Golf National on Sunday, as the difficult closing stretch of the Ryder Cup course saw a host of challengers slip up.

Sweden's Noren storms to French Open title as fellow Swede Kinhult falters
Swedish golfer Alex Noren holds the trophy after winning the HNA Open de France, as part of the European Tour 2018, on Sunday. Photo: LUCAS BARIOULET / AFP
Fellow Swede Marcus Kinhult had entered Sunday's play with a two-shot lead but struggled through a five-over final round to end in a three-way tie for fifth.
 
World number 16 Noren fired a brilliant four-under 67 to reach seven-under par for the tournament, before sitting back and watching his rivals falter as he won by a single stroke.
 
The 35-year-old will be a key figure for Europe when the Ryder Cup gets underway on September 28, and he showed all his qualities by playing the last three holes in two-under.
 
The big-name pairing of Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm both threatened, but the two Spaniards found water at the 18th, while world number two Justin Thomas never seriously contended.
 
Julian Suri, who was looking to become the first American winner of the event since Barry Jaeckel in 1972, went to the 72nd hole on eight-under but made a watery double-bogey, while England's Chris Wood also blew a late lead.
 
That handed Noren, who finished his fourth round 45 minutes before the final group, a 10th European Tour title and first since the BMW PGA Championship in May 2017, when he also fought back from seven shots behind on the final day.
 
Scotland's Russell Knox carded a final-round 65 earlier in the day to finish tied for second with Suri and Wood on six-under — enough to secure him a spot for the British Open at Carnoustie along with Kinhult and Suri.