Golf: Fiji full of pleasant memories for champion Snedeker, as he coasts to nine-stroke win

SUVA, Fiji (AFP) - Winning the Fiji International brought back happy memories for American Brandt Snedeker, as he cruised to an emphatic nine-shot victory at the Natadola Bay Golf Course on Sunday.

Returning to the Pacific island nation where he honeymooned eight years ago, the US Ryder Cup star carded a fourth-round four-under 68 to finish 16-under at 272 for his first European Tour title.

He started the final round with a three-shot lead and steadily pulled away from the field with four birdies on the outward nine and another birdie and a bogey on the run home.

New Zealander Michael Hendry had an even-par final round to finish on 281 in second, a shot clear of countryman Brad Shilton and Australians Andrew Evans, Matthew Giles and Anthony Houston.

The win completed an admirable fortnight for the 35-year-old Snedeker after he bagged three points in an unbeaten performance to help the United States beat Europe 17-11 to claim the Ryder Cup last week.

"It's been an unbelievable run. To play the way I have has been really fun," said Snedeker, adding that with the Ryder Cup and a European tour win under his belt, the next target is a Major title.

"Last week helped me prepare for that, handling the pressure the way I did," he said.

"Today is going to help me do that, handling a big lead the way I did, to know I can handle whatever a golf course throws at me against the best players in the world and come out on top."

After flying in late to Fiji, the eight-time champion on the PGA Tour had little time to get the feel of the picturesque Natadola Bay course.

But the lack of preparation made no difference as he reeled off rounds of 69, 65, 70 and 68, only failing three times in the 72 holes to make par or better.

Snedeker, who intends spending the next week holidaying with his family in Fiji, said memories of his honeymoon were a major reason in drawing him back to the islands.

"I realised how special and lovely this place is. I'm excited to be back and I brought my kids along this time so they can see it," he said.

Fifth-three year-old Vijay Singh, a three-time Major champion and the tournament host in his homeland, ended tied for 21st at two-under after a final-round 69.