3 December 2012
Germany’s Martin Kaymer succeeded Lee Westwood as champion, winning the US$5-million Nedbank Golf Challenge champion at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City on Sunday. It was his first win of the season.
After a sub-standard year, Kaymer showed much improved form in the South African Open in mid-November, finishing third to record his best result of 2012 before Sunday’s victory at the famous resort in South Africa’s North West province.
His winning total, eight-under-par 280, was the highest since Jim Furyk’s win on six-under in 2005, but the course plays differently in different conditions and with different pin placements, so direct comparisons cannot be made. Not that Kaymer would care after he won for the first time since he lifted the WGC-HSBC Champions title in November 2011.
‘I never felt that I had it won’
“I never felt that I had it won,” he admitted afterwards in an interview on the green. “At the tee on 18, I knew I had a two-shot lead, like Bernhard Langer had on Saturday in the Champions Challenge.
“I felt comfortable then, and obviously when I stepped onto the green, but Charl [Schwartzel] had a really good round of golf. Louis [Oosthuizen] played well too, but was a little unlucky here and there,” he added.
As Kaymer alluded to, Germany did the double, as Langer landed the senior title.
‘Thanks for the pressure’
“I’ve been in the lead a few times in my career, but this time when Bernhard won, the German media was writing about the German double and you guys [the commentators] talked about it all the time. When Bernhard won, he mentioned it in his speech. You guys mentioned it a few times on TV, so thanks for the pressure,” he joked.
Only Kaymer and Schwartzel managed four rounds of par or less as the course played tough. The German went around in 72, 69, 70 and 69 to finish on eight-under 280 to finish two shots clear of Schwartzel, who posted rounds of 72, 71, 70 and 69.
Third place went to Bill Haas on three-under 285, followed by Louis Oosthuizen on two-under 286, after he slipped to a final round two-over 74, and defending champion Lee Westwood on one-under 287.
The rest of the field finished over par. Paul Lawrie, the leader at halfway on four-under 140, ended on one-over 289 after closing with rounds of 75 and 74.
Francesco Molinari’s challenge was spoilt by a 78 in the third round and he finished on two-over 290, alongside Carl Pettersson, who, like the Italian, also closed with a three-under 69.
Throughout the tournament, 69 was the lowest round recorded, and it was achieved just six times by six players.
Peter Hanson, after opening with a level-par 72, followed those up with three 73s in succession to finish in ninth on three-over-par 291.
Justin Rose really struggled with his game, posting three rounds over par, including a horrible 79 in the second round, to end on seven-over 295.
Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner Garth Mulroy brought up the rear with a total of nine-over-par 297.
Under 69 twice
Champions Challenge winner Bernhard Langer went under 69 twice, posting rounds of 68 and 67 before closing with a 74, but that was still good enough for a two-shot win over Jay Haas, father of Bill.
Last year’s champion, Mark Calcavecchia, was in the running after the first two rounds, posting 71 and 69, but fell apart over the last 18 holes, carding a terrible 13-over-par 85 to slip to second last on the leaderboard.
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