Tommy Fleetwood Defends Nedbank Golf Challenge Title

Tommy Fleetwood ended his three-year winless streak after defending the Nedbank Golf Challenge in a dramatic final round

Fleetwood fist pumps as he wins the title
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tommy Fleetwood ended his three year winless run in dramatic fashion by defending his Nedbank Golf Challenge title, beating New Zealand’s Ryan Fox in a final round thriller by one shot at the Gary Player Country Club.

At one point on Wednesday evening, it was looking unlikely that Fleetwood would even start the tournament as he suffered with an illness. However, after getting attention from the medical staff on site, Fleetwood battled through and started the final round three shots behind joint-leaders - Rasmus Hojgaard and Thomas Detry.

Just seven holes in though, play was halted for three hours due to thunderstorms. This didn’t seem to hinder the Englishman, as he navigated his way around the course, carding four birdies, one eagle and a single bogey to see him home with a five-under 67.

Tommy Fleetwood holding the Nedbank Golf Challenge trophy

Fleetwood defended his title in Sun City

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As well as Fox and Fleetwood, the final group also featured Shubhankar Sharma, who looked threatening and briefly shared the lead with Fleetwood before Fox made consecutive birdies on the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th. 

A slip up from Fleetwood on the 12th saw him fall one behind, before an outstanding bunker shot on the 14th propelled him into a three-way tie as the trio made it to the 15th. 

Bogeys from Sharma on the 16th and 17th saw him fall two behind, which left Fox and Fleetwood battling it out heading down the 18th. Regrettably, Fox duffed his tee-shot on the 72nd hole, with his ball coming up short of the fairway. Despite this, he did give himself a par putt.

It was Fleetwood though who piled the pressure on as he frightened the hole with a 50-footer for birdie, leaving himself a tap-in for par. As he watched Fox miss his par putt from the side of the green, it cemented Fleetwood’s sixth DP World Tour victory and an emotional moment.

"It's been a great week and I have so many amazing memories from this place and I feel like I have such a great connection with it so this has only added to that. It's amazing that we managed to get four rounds in really, but it was a lovely feeling to go down the back nine in contention and with a chance.

"I felt good all day and when we came back out (from the weather delay) I played great. The putter did go slightly cold and I missed a few chances on the 12th and 13th, but I happened to be in the group where the scoring was happening. 

"(On the 14th) I felt good and it wasn't the best lie, but I felt okay and it came out lovely. I don't know far it would have gone if it had missed, but that spark can sometimes happen.

"It was very touch and go on Thursday morning and yesterday, after waking up early and not really sleeping that night, I didn't feel like I had anything left. The doctor here has been amazing and I have given his son the winning golf ball because without him there wasn't a chance that I would have played."

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Cieran Faulder
Contributor

Cieran joined the Golf Monthly team having previously written for other digital outlets like Reach PLC and Northern Golfer. After studying Journalism at Northumbria University, Cieran went on to complete an MA at the University of Sunderland. A big golf fan, he currently plays at Blyth Golf Club, where he holds a handicap of 8. Citing his favorite golfer as Tiger Woods, Cieran regards himself as the best snap hooker of a ball in the North of England.