Darren Fichardt of South Africa claimed victory in the weather-shortened Joburg Open and secured one of the three places available in this summer’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Darren Fichardt posted a third, and final, round score of 68 to finish one clear of Welshman Stuart Manley and Paul Waring of England at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington GC in South Africa.
Fichardt secured a fifth European Tour title and, together with Manley and Waring, he has earned a place in the field for The Open Championship this July.
The tournament was reduced to 54-holes after thunder and lightning had disrupted play on Saturday. There was a further delay on Sunday morning before the leaders were able to begin their third rounds.
Fichardt started his third round tied for the lead with Waring and he started well with birdies at the 1st, 6th and 8th holes. Fichardt’s countryman Jacques Kruysvijk had climbed to the top of the board but Fichardt joined him there with a further gain at the 12th. When Kruysvijk double bogeyed the 14th, Fichardt was left alone at the top.
The lead was down to one after Waring and Manley picked up birdies and the three were tied after Fichardt dropped a stroke at the 17th.
The 41-year-old kept his cool though and birdied the final hole to finish on 15-under-par, one clear of the two Brits.
Another British player, James Morrison, finished tied for fourth with South Africans Jacques Kruysvijk and Brandon Stone.
3 Talking points from the Joburg Open
1 – This was a fifth European Tour title for 41-year-old Darren Fichardt and his first since the Africa Open of 2013. His best result on the 2017 European Tour leading into this event was a tie for 26th in the South African Open.
“The form I have been having the last couple of months has been horrendous but I decided at the beginning of the year that I was going to play as many tournaments as I can and just get my game right. And yeah, it worked out. It’s good to win again,” he said. “It’s just nice to see hard work paying off. It’s very nice!”
2 – Darren Fichardt, Stuart Manley and Paul Waring all earned places in The Open Championship to be held at Royal Birkdale this July. The final chance to make it to The Open through The Open Qualifying Series comes at the Mizuno Open in Japan from May 25-28.
3 – South African George Coetzee fired an excellent final round of 65. It included eight birdies and an eagle. He ended the week in a tie for seventh and was left to rue a disappointing second round of 72.
George Coetzee swing sequence:
Royal Johannesburg & Kensington GC, Johannesburg, South Africa
1 Darren Fichardt (RSA) 66 66 68 200 €187,696
T2 Stuart Manley (Wal) 67 67 67 201 €109,065
T2 Paul Waring (Eng) 65 67 69 201 €109,065
T4 Jacques Kruysvijk (RSA) 63 70 69 202 €49,657
T4 James Morrison (Eng) 68 68 66 202 €49,657
T4 Brandon Stone (RSA) 70 65 67 202 €49,657
T7 George Coetzee (RSA) 66 72 65 203 €28,213
T7 Keenan Davidse (RSA) 67 68 68 203 €28,213
T7 Paul Peterson (USA) 62 72 69 203 €28,213
T7 Aaron Rai (Eng) 65 69 69 203 €28,213
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage