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Molinari fends off new world No. 1

Francesco Molinari wins the HSBC Champions by a stroke after posting the low score in three of the four rounds.

Associated Press

Francesco Molinari wins the HSBC Champions by a stroke after posting the low score in three of the four rounds.

SHANGHAI — When last seen on a world stage, Francesco Molinari was helpless against Tiger Woods in Ryder Cup singles, getting steamrolled by the former world No. 1.

One month later at the HSBC Champions, Molinari turned in a world-class performance against the new No. 1.

In a duel with Lee Westwood that came down to the last putt, Molinari played bogey-free Sunday at Sheshan International for 5-under 67, giving him a one-shot victory and a World Golf Championship title.

"It's been four fantastic days, and especially the last two playing head-to-head with Lee was really tough," Molinari said. "I think the experience of playing with Tiger in the Ryder Cup definitely helped me in the last couple of days, because when you are playing against No. 1 in the world, it is not easy to always stick to the game plan and do your game."

Woods was 7 under over the last seven holes in that Ryder Cup match against Molinari. He wasn't close to that level at the HSBC Champions, where even a 68 on the final day still put him 12 shots behind in a tie for sixth.

He ended his PGA Tour season without a win for the first time in his career.

"That's just the way it goes," Woods said. "It's not like I didn't try. It just didn't happen this year. But I'm pleased with the progress I've made of late. Things are building and heading in the right direction, which is good."

Richie Ramsay closed with 71 and tied for third with Luke Donald, who faltered to 73. For Ramsay, it was enough to secure a spot in the Race to Dubai finale at the end of the month.

But this was Molinari's show. No one had a lower score in three of the four rounds, and he finished at 19-under 269.

CHAMPIONS: John Cook successfully defended his title in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in San Francisco, while Bernhard Langer took his first season points title.

Cook shot 4-under 67, holing a 15-foot par putt on the 18th hole to beat Michael Allen by two strokes.

Cook began the day a shot behind Allen but birdied two of the first three holes to take the lead for good. Cook finished at 17-under 267 and earned $440,000 for his fifth career victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Langer (69) tied for third with David Frost (71) at 12 under to wrap up the points race and $1 million annuity.

LPGA: Top-ranked Jiyai Shin won the Mizuno Classic in Shima, Japan, for her second victory of the season and eighth overall, closing with 5-under 67 for a two-stroke victory over Yani Tseng.

Shin finished at 18 under after opening with rounds of 65 and 66. The 2008 winner in the event also sanctioned by the Japan LPGA earned $180,000 to increase her season total to $1,779,768 and pull within $3,535 of leader Na Yeon Choi with two events left.

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome finished strong with 65 to vault into a tie for fifth at 11 under. It was her sixth top-10 finish this season, a career best.

Molinari fends off new world No. 1 11/07/10 [Last modified: Sunday, November 7, 2010 9:14pm]
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