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South Africans rally to win wild World Cup

GOTEMBA, Japan -- After missing a par putt to leave his team on the verge of elimination, Retief Goosen delivered a million-dollar 5-iron to help win the World Cup.

Goosen, the U.S. Open champion, and South African teammate Ernie Els beat Denmark's Thomas Bjorn and Soren Hansen on the second playoff hole Sunday to win the $1 million first prize.

Els tapped in for par, then watched as Hansen missed a 7-footer that would have extended the match, in which four teams -- including Americans Tiger Woods and David Duval -- made the playoff with four-round totals of 24-under 264. Woods chipped in for an eagle on the final hole.

Els and Goosen got into the playoff with a clutch eagle on the 18th hole of regulation that capped a 6-under-par 66.

Goosen missed the par putt on No. 17 to fall a stroke back, but quickly atoned with a 5-iron approach from the middle of the 18th fairway that landed 8 feet from the hole. With Bjorn and Hansen in with a birdie, Els made the putt for eagle-3 and the South Africans were headed for the playoff.

"We saw that Denmark made birdie on 18 and knew we needed an eagle," said Els. "Retief hit a beautiful 5-iron and I was able to make the putt to get us into the playoff."

Duval and Woods appeared all but out of it after a slow start but reached the playoff with an incredible finish that included three straight birdies from the 15th and a scrambling eagle on the 18th for a 5-under 67.

It didn't look good for the Americans when Duval's approach shot on the 18th landed in the rough to the right of the green. Woods then made the shot of the day with a chip from 10 feet off the green that bounced on the top of a hill and rolled in.

New Zealand had a three-stroke lead heading into the final round and had a chance to win it outright on No. 18, but could only manage par after Michael Campbell's approach sailed over the green and David Smail was forced to chip on from the rough. Campbell missed a 7-foot birdie putt and New Zealand finished with a 70.

"It was a shame because it really wasn't a bad spot." said Smail, a regular on the Japanese Tour. "It was just sitting down and sort of hard-packed and I thought the ball would roll a little further than it did."

Bjorn and Hansen knocked down seven birdies for the day's best round of 7-under 65.

Goosen won the this year's U.S. Open in a playoff and Els captured the 1994 U.S. Open in a playoff with Loren Roberts and Colin Montgomerie.

"I've been in a few playoffs this year so I'm getting used to it now," Goosen said.

On the first playoff hole, the 18th, Els found the bunker on the right side of the green with his drive. Goosen then hit a 2-iron under a tree and onto the lower tier of the green, from where Els just missed a 35-foot eagle putt. Goosen tapped in for birdie.

"I pulled my drive," said Els. "But it all came down to the second shot. Retief hit a phenomenal shot. It was 240 yards out to the flag and the only thing in the line is the bunker, but he hit it under the tree and cut it up to the green."

Woods' drive landed in the rough on the right side of the fairway and Duval had no choice but to chip out. Woods' approach landed on the green well to the left of the hole, and Duval left a 20-foot birdie putt just short to eliminate the U.S. team.

New Zealand also was eliminated when Campbell missed a 10-foot birdie putt.

On the second playoff hole, the par-4 14th, Bjorn drove into the trees on the right, while Goosen split the fairway. Els' approach landed 15 feet from the hole and Goosen missed the birdie putt by 6 inches, leaving a tap-in for par. The South Africans then watched as Hansen missed the par putt.

"We did a lot of things right out there today," Bjorn said. "We actually didn't make a bogey all week and then all of a sudden it came on the playoff and that was unfortunate"