12 January 2010
South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel captured the €1-million (about R10.7-million) Africa Open at the East London Golf Club on Sunday after firing a superb six-under-par 67 in the final round.
It could have been an even better round, but Schwartzel bogeyed the 18th. Still, his excellent round left him on 20-under-par 272 for the tournament. It was enough for him to take victory by a single shot over fellow South African Thomas Aiken.
Aiken closed with a 70, as did Jbe’ Kruger, who finished a shot further back on 18-under 274, to give South Africans a 1-2-3 finish in the event, which was co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and PGA European Tour for the first time.
Final hole bogey
Reflecting on his bogey to finish, Schwartzel said: “It was not the ideal tee shot when I pushed it right on 18, but I said to my caddie that we should take five and leave Thomas with a birdie to force a playoff.”
That proved to be a good decision as Aiken was unable to make up the shot. Schwartzel won the title with his consistency. “I think I dropped just five shots the whole week,” he said afterwards. He was right: three bogeys and a double-bogey.
It was Schwartzel’s fourth European Tour win and his second in South Africa after having also won twice in Spain previously: he claimed victory in the 2004/05 Alfred Dunhill Championship, the 2007 Open de Espana, and the 2008 Madrid Masters.
SA European Tour events
His win in East London was worth a cool €158 500 (about R1.7-million). The event was the third of four tournaments in South Africa that start the 2009/10 European Tour’s Race to Dubai, formerly known as the Order of Merit.
The first two events in South Africa had been won by foreigners: Spain’s Pablo Martin in the Alfred Dunhill Championship and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay in the South African Open. Next on the schedule is the Joburg Open at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club. It takes place from 14 to 17 January.
Aiken was tied with Trevor Fisher junior for the lead, heading into the final round. His challenge was undermined on the 303-metre fifth, however, as he carded a double-bogey, which allowed Schwartzel to open a gap.
Four-way tie for fourth
Fisher, meanwhile, went around in one-under-par 72 to finish in a tie for fourth with Australia’s Rick Kulacz, England’s James Morrison and compatriot Chris Swanepoel on 17-under 275. Kulascz matched Schwartzel with a 67, while Morrison and Swanepoel fired five-under 68s.
Branden Grace made a late charge with the day’s best round of 66, which included an amazing three eagles. His effort lifted him to 16-under-par 276, alongside Michiel Bothma, James Kingston, England’s Miles Tunnicliff and Sweden’s Pelle Edberg.
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