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Els gets a grand birthday present

He wins record 6th Match Play title

On his 35th birthday, Ernie Els received a familiar present -- a World Match Play title. And he just might have his 96-year-old grandfather to thank.

Els won the tournament for a record sixth time, beating Lee Westwood, 2 and 1, yesterday to reap golf's biggest payday -- $1.8 million.

The South African completed his victory in Virginia Water, England, with a 20-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole. It was the third straight time he has won the event, matching his three titles from 1994-96.

"It's a brilliant feeling," he said. "It's been a great run, hasn't it?"

Els got some shrewd advice along the way. He took a phone call from his elderly grandfather -- like the golfer, formally Theodore Ernest Els -- who suggested he keep his head still while putting.

"The older he gets, the harder he gets," Els said. "He was giving me a lot of grief about my putting. I hope he's happy now. At least I holed one good putt."

Els's sixth title broke the record he had shared with Gary Player, who won five times between 1965 and 1973, and Seve Ballesteros, whose successes came from 1981 to 1991.

LPGA -- Three shots behind Grace Park with five holes to go, six-time LPGA Player of the Year Annika Sorenstam rallied with an eagle, birdie, and three pars to win her fourth Samsung World Championship by three shots over Park in Palm Desert, Calif. Sorenstam, winner of six of her 15 Tour events this year, shot a closing 5-under 67 to finish 18 under. Park shot 73.

"Today, it was up to me to do something," said Sorenstam. "It was a wonderful day. This is special, to come from behind. You've got the 20 best players in the world and you've got to really play some good golf."

Sorenstam took sole possession of the lead for the first time on the 71st hole. Amateur Michelle Wie, who turned 15 last Monday, had a 70 to tie for 13th with Jennifer Rosales at 5 under.PGA -- Brent Geiberger shot a final-round 66 and cruised to a two-shot victory in the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro, N.C., winning for the first time in five years. Geiberger, who finished at 18-under 270, hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation.

Geiberger and his father, Al (1976), are the first father-son duo to win the same tournament on the PGA Tour.

Michael Allen birdied the final hole for a 67 to finish second, earning enough money to secure his playing privileges for next season.

Champions -- Mark McNulty shot a 6-under 65 to win the SBC Championship in San Antonio by eight strokes over Gary McCord, the largest margin of victory in a 54-hole Champions Tour event this season. McNulty, a Tour rookie from Zimbabwe, finished the tournament at 18-under 195 for his second victory this year.

European -- Sergio Garcia shot a 3-under 67 to pull away from Simon Khan and capture the Mallorca Classic in Pula, Balearic Islands. The Spaniard, who began the day tied with Khan at 9 under, finished at 12-under 268 at Pula Golf Club. Khan closed with a 1-over 71 and finished four shots back at 8 under.

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