- The Washington Times - Monday, March 9, 2009

From combined dispatches

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. | Y.E. Yang was first to finish at last year’s Honda Classic.

This time, he finished first.

Alone in front throughout, Yang shot a final round of 2-under 68 on Sunday to finish one shot ahead of John Rollins and post his first PGA Tour victory.

The Korean took command with three straight birdies on the front and wouldn’t fold, picking up a two-year exemption and a check for $1,008,000. With the win, he qualified for next week’s CA Championship at Doral, plus earned an invitation to next month’s Masters.

Yang played last year’s final round at PGA National by himself, going off first and needing only 1 hour, 53 minutes to finish. He was there until the end this time, pumping his fist in the air when his 50-footer for birdie nestled to a stop a foot away from the cup, giving him a tap-in for victory.

For someone whose claim to fame was beating Tiger Woods at the 2006 HSBC Champions in Shanghai, it was a moment to savor.

Rollins made birdie at the par-5 18th to get within two shots of Yang, who was one hole behind and in a greenside bunker at the par-3 17th. And when Yang’s 10-footer for par tailed right and stopped short, the lead - four shots earlier in the day - was down to one. He cringed when his third shot sailed off target at the finishing hole but coolly two-putted for the win.

Rollins (67) was alone in second and he, like Yang, qualified for the CA Championship by moving into the top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings. Ben Crane (68) was third after finishing 6 under; Jeff Klauk (71) was alone in fourth, another shot back.

There were 25 players who started the final round within six shots of Yang’s lead, and some made early charges.

Robert Allenby started with two birdies in his first three holes and eventually got to 7 under but never got going on the back nine and finished 4 under, tied for fifth with Will MacKenzie (70), Fredrik Jacobson (70) and Scott Piercy (65).

Mark Calcavecchia was seeking an oddity: Winning the Honda for the third time on what could be described as an 11-year plan. He won the event in 1987 and 1998 but finished tied for 22nd at 1 under.

Shin claims HSBC

SINGAPORE | South Korean star Jiyai Shin won the HSBC Women’s Champions for her fourth LPGA Tour title in eight months, shooting her second straight 6-under 66 for a two-stroke victory on Australia’s Katherine Hull.

Shin, five strokes behind Hull at the start of the round and four back with nine holes to play, had an 11-under 277 total at Tanah Merah and earned $300,000 for her first victory as a member of the LPGA Tour.

“I’m very surprised and very happy,” said the 20-year-old, the Women’s British Open winner in August at Sunningdale. “I’m thinking, ‘I had chance for top 10, not for win.’ ”

Alker wins New Zealand

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand | New Zealand’s Steve Alker won the New Zealand PGA Championship, closing with his second straight 5-under 67 for a two-stroke victory on countrymen Josh Geary and David Smail.

Alker, a stroke behind American Steve Friesen at the start of the round, shot a 15-under 273 on the Bob Charles-designed Clearwater course.

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