4 March 2013
South Africa’s Dawie van der Walt captured the biggest title of his career at the Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate outside Pretoria on Sunday when he was crowned the winner of the inaugural Tshwane Open.
The final round of the event, co-sanctioned by the Sunshine and European Tours, began with a four-way tie for the lead, with Van der Walt, Africa Open champion Darren Fichardt, Charl Coetzee and Mark Tullo all on 16-under-par 200.
Fichardt remained in the running, with a final round of three-under-par 69. Coetzee failed to mount a real challenge, posting a level-par 72, while Tullo’s game fell apart as he closed with a five-over 77. Van der Walt, meanwhile, fired an eagle on the 626-metre fourth, added four birdies and dropped just an single shot on the 10th, to finish with a five-under-par 67.
“My goal was to shoot 10-under for the weekend, and my focus was reaching five-under for the round today. I’m just really happy that I played well and won, because you can play well and not win,” he said.
Van der Walt, whose only previous wins had come on the satellite tours in the USA, was thrilled to finally make a breakthrough on home soil. He said: “You can only imagine what it’s like to win such a big one. I don’t know what I’ll do yet. The purses are a lot bigger on the European Tour, so I’ll have to rethink some things.”
Van der Walt’s winner’s purse was €237 750 (R2.8-million).
“You start doubting yourself,” he admitted, “and at 30 years old you start to wonder if you’re good enough, and this proves that I am.
“I would have liked to win before 30, but I’ll definitely take this! Golf is a game where you don’t get a lot of chances to win, and to do it is fantastic.”
Van der Walt identified the 12th hole, where he made a birdie, as being crucial to his victory. “It was a big turning point when I made that putt on 12, because I was just trying to make another birdie to get to five-under, and once it dropped I felt like I was in control,” he said.
Fichardt began his final round superbly, slotting three birdies within the first five holes. He couldn’t find another one the rest of the way, though, and finished with 13 consecutive pars.
Coetzee, like Fichardt, began well, with birdies on the second and third holes, but drops on the seventh, 13th and 14th, along with another birdie on the 10th led to a level-par round.
After rounds of 67, 66 and 67, Tullo had birdied 16 holes without a single drop, but his challenge fell apart over the final 18 holes. He improved to 18-under with birdies on the fourth and seventh, but then dropped a shot on the eighth.
His inward nine then turned into a nightmare, with four bogeys and a double-bogey seeing him tumble to a 42 over the last nine holes and 77 for the round.
Louis de Jager, who started the final round one shot off the pace, matched Fichardt with a 69 to finish in third place on 18-under-par 270.
American Peter Uihlein, a former number one amateur in the world, claimed fourth place on 17-under 271.
- 267 Dawie van der Walt (RSA) (-21) 68, 65, 67, 67
- 269 Darren Fichardt (RSA) (-19) 65, 71, 64, 69
- 270 Louis de Jager (RSA) (-18) 71, 65, 65, 69
- 271 Peter Uihlein (USA) (-17) 68, 66, 68, 69
- 272 Bjorn Akesson (Swe) (-16) 66, 75, 66, 65
- 272 Charl Coetzee (RSA) (-16) 67, 65, 68, 72
- 272 Danny Willett (Eng) (-16) 68, 68, 70, 66
- 273 Morten Orum Madsen (-15) 70, 67, 69, 67
- 273 Graham van der Merwe (-15) 70, 66, 68, 69
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