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History: Mikko Ilonen became the first Finn to win World Match Play

History: Mikko Ilonen became the first Finn to win World Match Play

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History: Mikko Ilonen became the first Finn to win World Match Play

Mikko Ilonen hailed the best year of his career after becoming the first Finnish player to win the Volvo World Match Play Championship with a hard-fought victory over top seed and good friend Henrik Stenson.

Ilonen carded five birdies and no bogeys despite the windy conditions at The London Club to win 3&1 and secure the first prize of €650,000, almost double his previous biggest payday from winning the Irish Open in June.

Stenson, who had not led at any stage of his morning semi-final against George Coetzee before making a birdie on the 18th to win, claimed an early lead in the final with a birdie on the fourth.

However, the world number five then bogeyed the fifth and hit his tee shot into the water on the eighth, before birdies on the 10th and 12th took Ilonen three up.

Stenson, still seeking his first win since the DP World Tour Championship in November last year, refused to throw in the towel and birdied the 13th.

But after almost holing his chip from the back of the 14th green, the Swede could only look on as Ilonen holed from 12 feet for birdie to move three ahead again.

Stenson fought back once more with a two-putt birdie on the par-five 15th, but was unable to birdie either of the next two holes as Ilonen secured the biggest win of his career.

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"It's pretty hard to sum it up right now," the 34-year-old said. "The game plan was not to make any mistakes.

"I did not play that well this morning but felt pretty comfortable going into the final, I knew I had a good chance to beat him and I did."


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