Red-hot Bjorn wins Nedbank Challenge

9 December 2013

With eagles on the 10th and 14th holes, Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn fired a final round seven-under-par 65 to claim a two-shot victory victory in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City in South Africa’s North West province on Sunday.

Bjorn finished on 20-under-par 268, with Sergio Garcia and third round leader Jamie Donaldson sharing second on 270. World number three Henrik Stenson finished fourth on 272, Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge fifth on 273, and South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel sixth on 275.

‘Right up there’

“This is right up there with the biggest victories of my career,” Bjorn said after securing victory. “The golf I played this week was so good.

“I’m 42 and to start my 14th season like this is unbelievable. This takes me into 2014 with the belief that I can compete with the best in the world.”

Bjorn’s win, his 15th on the European Tour, lifted him up to number 25 in the official world golf rankings and was the second by a Dane in South Africa recently, following Morten Orum Madsen’s victory in the South African Open in mid-November.

‘Proud’

Reflecting on his win, Bjorn said: “I’m proud of the way I handled myself this week. This is one of those tournaments that have been around for so long. I’ve come close to winning it before, and I’ve always wanted to come down here and put in a good performance.”

Bjorn pocketed a winner’s cheque of €795 338 (approximately R11.27-million) for his victory.

‘An inspiration’

Speaking at the prize giving on the 18th green, he paid tribute to former South African President Nelson Mandela, saying: “He was an inspiration to human beings. To see what one man can do is an inspiration to all of us. If we all just do a little bit more then this world will be a better place.”

Sergio Garcia made a strong bid for victory with a sensational outward nine, firing six birdies. He added further birdies at the 14th and 15th, but then dropped a shot at the 15th, which gave Bjorn some breathing room. Nontheless, his 65 matched the Dane for the best round of the day.

Third round leader

Jamie Donaldson, who led by three shots heading into the final round, after going around in 67, 66 and 67, carded three birdies, but was let down by a bogey on the picturesque ninth hole, which left him with a two-under-par 70.

The leading South African, Charl Schwartzel, produced a very good final round, posting a six-under 66, including a birdie on the 18th. South African golfers, in general, struggled, however.

Darren Fichardt tied for 12th, Richard Sterne and Louis Oosthuizen shared 14th, Branden Grace tied for 20th, Louis van der Walt ended in 23rd place and Ernie Els, disappointingly, finished second last, in 29th place, on 12-over-par 300 after closing with successive rounds of 77.

LEADERBOARD

  • Thomas Bjorn (Den) 268 (-20) 67, 70, 66, 65
  • Sergio Garcia (Spa) 270 (-18) 66, 73, 66, 65
  • Jamie Donaldson (Wal) 270 (-18) 67, 66, 67, 70
  • Henrik Stenson (Swe) 272 (-16) 69, 67, 69, 67
  • Brendon de Jonge (Zim) 273 (-15) 70, 68, 69, 66
  • Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 275 (-13) 68, 70, 71, 66
  • Justin Rose (Eng) 276 (-12) 73, 67, 69, 67
  • Ryan Moore (USA) 276 (-12) 71, 65, 67, 73
  • Thongchai Jaidee 277 (-11) 69, 70, 66, 72
  • Peter Uihlein (USA) 279 (-9) 70, 69, 70, 70