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Steady does it for Appleby

With his left leg in pain and his wife expecting their first child, Stuart Appleby almost didn't return to defend his Mercedes Championships title.

Then he shot 74 in the first round, another reason to have stayed home in Australia. But there were no regrets Sunday, except from the players trying to catch him.

Appleby drove the green on the 398-yard sixth hole for eagle, came up with two tough birdies on the back nine and closed with 6-under 67 to become the first back-to-back winner in 22 years at the season-opening tournament.

Vijay Singh was tied for the lead until hooking his tee shot into the weeds for triple bogey on No. 13.

Tiger Woods missed 12 putts inside 10 feet during the tournament, two of them on the back nine in the final round that ultimately cost him a chance to win.

Ernie Els needed birdie on the par-5 18th to force a playoff, but his tee shot sailed to the right and hit a cart path, landing in the shrubs for a two-shot penalty.

The last chance came from Jonathan Kaye, who needed to get up and down for birdie in front of the 18th green, couldn't decide how to play the shot and left it some 30 feet short.

Appleby finished 21-under 271 for a one-shot victory over Kaye, becoming the first to win the Mercedes with a round over par since it moved to Kapalua in 1999. Except for that opening round, Appleby did little wrong. He played the final 55 holes without a bogey.

"You'd have to say it's slightly surprising," Appleby said. "You look at where I was after Round One, you would not have put any money on me."

Lanny Wadkins in 1982-83 was the last to win consecutive Mercedes Championships.

Els shot 71 and tied for third, two shots behind with Woods. Singh (74) tied for fifth.

Results, 5C.

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