8 December 2008
Henrik Stenson roared into a first-round lead in the Nedbank Golf Challenge with a record-equalling nine-under-par 63, and the Swede never let up over the remaining three rounds, racing away to a huge nine-shot victory at Sun City in South Africa’s North West province on Sunday.
His succes was built upon his command of the Gary Player Country Club course’s par fives, which he birdied with consistency to lower his score and bolster his lead.
A week after capturing the World Cup of Golf with his fellow Nedbank Challenge competitor, Robert Karlsson, Stenson turned in a performance of such quality that the television commentators were in agreement that it would be a long time before it would be matched again.
He finished on 21-under-par 267, four shots off the record held by Ernie Els, but the South African’s mark was achieved on a course that was quite different to the way it looks today.
R3-million per round!
The victory was worth $1.2-million for the Swede, which works out at over R3-million per round! Not bad for four day’s work!
He began the final round with an eight-shot lead and proceeded to turn in the third best round of the day, a four-under-par 68. Kenny Perry, with a superb seven-under 65, was three shots better and James Kingston a shot better.
It wasn’t as if the course played easily; four of the 12-man field finished with over-par totals. Stenson was simply magnificent.
South African golf legend Gary Player was effusive in his praise for the Swede afterwards, telling Stenson that he believed a major title awaited him in the near future.
President, sponsors thanked
Player also thanked South African President Kgalema Motlanthe for attending the final day at Sun City and applauded sponsors Nedbank for extending their sponsorship of the event by another three years.
Perry improved every round, going from a 73 to a 70 to a 68 and finally to a 65 as he rode a hot putter in the final round into second place.
Robert Karlsson settled for third on nine-under-par 279 after a level-par 72 in the final round.
South Africa’s best
Rory Sabbatini was the best of the South African contingent of three players, finishing fourth on eight-under-par 280. His progress was undermined on the 18th hole during the third round when he doubled-bogeyed, which left him with a level-par round of 72.
Sergio Garcia, whose recent superb form has propelled him to second in the world rankings, failed to fire, posting rounds of 72, 70, 72, and 70. That left him on four-under 284 for the tournament, tied with Lee Westwood, whose scores of 70, 72, 70, and 72 eerily echoed the Spaniard’s performance as they swopped 70s and 72s.
SA Open champion James Kingston finished strongly with a five-under-par 67 to take him to two-under 286 for the tournament, alongside South Korea’s KJ Choi.
Justin Rose, who fought a magnificent duel with Trevor Immelman for the title in 2007, couldn’t find the same kind of form and finished on two-over 290.
Defending champion’s struggles
Defending champion Immelman struggled with his game and it came apart in the final round when he posted an ugly five-over-par 77 to end on 291.
Luke Donald slid to a 75 over the last 18 holes and finished a shot worse off on 292, while Miguel Angel Jiminez, despite a decent three-under 69 in the last round, was last on five-over-par 293.
- 267 – Henrik Stenson (SWE) 63 71 65 68
- 276 – Kenny Perry (USA) 73 70 68 65
- 279 – Robert Karlsson (SWE) 72 68 67 72
- 280 – Rory Sabbatini (RSA) 68 70 72 70
- 284 – Sergio Garcia (ESP) 72 70 72 70
- 284 – Lee Westwood (ENG) 70 72 70 72
- 286 – James Kingston (RSA) 72 77 70 67
- 286 – K.J. Choi (KOR) 72 67 73 74
- 290 – Justin Rose (ENG) 73 73 72 72
- 291 – Trevor Immelman (RSA) 72 73 69 77
- 292 – Luke Donald (ENG) 72 74 71 75
- 293 – Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) 75 76 73 69
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