6 December 2011
After a brilliant course record 10-under-par 62 in the third round, Lee Westwood played it safe, carding a final round one-over 73 on his way to a two-stroke victory in the 2011 Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, North West province on Sunday.
With the win, he joined Seve Ballesteros (1983/84), David Frost (1989/90), Nick Price (1997/98), Ernie Els (1999,2000), and Jim Furyk (2005/06) as the only back-to-back winners in the 31-year history of the event.
Interviewed on the 18th hole’s green after being presented with the winner’s trophy by South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Westwood said: “I’ve been coming here a long time, this is the ninth time, and it’s special every time I come.
‘Probably the best round I’ve ever played’
“I love playing this course, and yesterday was probably the best round I’ve ever played. It set me up to play conservatively today. It’s very satisfying.”
Questioned about his journey from being one of the world’s top players to being an also-ran, and then returning to the top (he is currently world number three), Westwood said: “It’s all right when things go well and you are top of the rankings, but when you drop to 270 you find out more about the real person.
“So to get invited back here and win back-to-back titles is a bit special.
“Yesterday was very special,” Westwood added. “I drove well and made a few putts, which you’ve got to do round any course when you make 10-under.”
Four rounds under 70
Robert Karlsson was the only player who managed to break 70 in every round. He did it, just, with rounds of 69, 69, 69, and 68, the best round of the final day, to finish on 13-under-par 275, alone in second place. That left the big Swede with a cheque of $660 000 (approximately R5.32-million), not quite the territory of Westwood’s $1.25-million (approximately R10.07-million), but a serious Christmas present nonetheless.
Jason Dufner, in his first appearance at the Nedbank Challenge, drove well, but struggled a little with a cold putter. Despite that, he finished in a share of third with Graeme McDowell, on 11-under-par 277.
The Northern Irishman was up and down throughout the event, scoring some brilliant birdies, but also dropping plenty of shots along the way.
Four successive rounds of 70
KT Kim looked like he really enjoyed his first experience of the Gary Player Country Club course at Sun City. He was steady throughout, carding four successive rounds of 70 to finish alone in fifth, on eight-under-par 280.
In contrast, Charl Schwartzel looked a little weary, and that was reflected in his play. He enjoyed good rounds of 68 in the first and third rounds, but a 74 in the second round and 72 on the last day meant he never challenged beyond the opening 18 holes.
World number one Luke Donald never really managed to get going and failed to break into the sixties, carding rounds of 70, 71, 70, and 72.
Poor final round
Martin Kaymer, along with Westwood and Donald, one of three men in the field to have reached the world number one ranking, was undone by a poor final round of four-over-par 76. That left him in eighth spot, on four-under 284.
The bottom four – Simon Dyson, Anders Hansen, Francesco Molinari, and Darren Clarke – were all undone by at least one poor round: Dyson carded a 75 in the third round, Hansen closed with a 77, Molinari shot 77 in round two, and Clarke finished with rounds of 76 and 78.
American Mark Calcavecchia claimed the seniors’ title, finishing on nine-under-par 207 after rounds of 71, 69, and 67.
Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam shared second on 208, with David Frost and Nick Price tied for fourth, five shots further back, on three-under 213.
They were followed by Tom Lehman (218), Jeff Sluman (218), and Mark O’Meara (221).
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