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South Africa's Dawie Van Der Walt held off his countrymen Darren Fichardt and Louis De Jager to win the European Tour's Tshwane Open at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate.
Van Der Walt went into the final round in a tie for the lead with Fichardt, another South African Charl Coetzee and Mark Tullo of Chile. The 30-year-old played a superb closing round of five-under-par 67 to see off his rivals and claim the biggest victory of his career to date.
"You can only imagine what it's like to win such a big one," he said. "Golf is a game where you don't get a lot of chances to win, and to do so is just fantastic."
The final round was a hard-fought one with Fichardt and Coetzee making the first moves with early birdies. But Van Der Walt struck with an eagle at the monstrous par-5 4th. At 685 yards, it was the longest hole in the history of the European Tour, and the South African was only the fourth player to score a three on the hole during the tournament.
Van der Walt, whose only victories before this event had come on satellite tours in the US, started the back nine one shot clear and he extended his advantage with birdies on the 12th and 15th. The South African closed with three straight pars to secure the title and an exemption on the European Tour.
"You start doubting yourself and, at 30 years old, you start to wonder if you're good enough and this shows me that I am," he said. "I would have liked to win before 30, but I'll definitely take this."
Tullo and Coetzee dropped away on the back nine and it was Fichardt, a winner two weeks ago in the Africa Open, who took second place on his own. He closed with 13 straight pars to finish on 19-under-par for the week.
Another South African, Louis De Jager, ended his challenge strongly. With an eagle and a birdie in his last four holes, he took third spot. His total of 270 was one better than former world amateur number one, Peter Uihlein – The American claimed fourth place on his own.
Tshwane Open Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate Feb 28 - Mar 3, purse €1,500,000, par 72
1 Dawie Van Der Walt (RSA) 68 65 67 67 267 €237,750 2 Darren Fichardt (RSA) 65 71 64 69 269 €172,500 3 Louis De Jager (RSA) 71 65 65 69 270 €103,800 4 Peter Uihlein (USA) 68 66 68 69 271 €73,650 T5 Bjorn Akesson (Swe) 66 75 66 65 272 €53,100 T5 Charl Coetzee (RSA) 67 65 68 72 272 €53,100 T5 Danny Willett (Eng) 68 68 70 66 272 €53,100 T8 Morten Orum Madsen (Den) 70 67 69 67 273 €34,650 T8 Graham Van Der Merwe (RSA) 70 66 68 69 273 €34,650
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage
Where next? PGA Tour - Michael Thompson wins The Honda Classic
Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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