South Africa’s Richard Sterne fired a superb final round of 64 to win the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club by seven shots from his countryman Charl Schwartzel.
Sterne, who was runner-up to Stephen Gallacher in Dubai last week, began the final round tied at the top of the leaderboard with. The 31-year-old quickly found himself chasing, as Fisher opened with an eagle three.
But Sterne, a winner of this event back in 2008, didn’t panic and, while he cruised serenely through his final round, Fisher faded badly and eventually ended the week in a tie for sixth.
Sterne suffered two years of injury problems in 2010 and 2011, but will be able to put those behind him as he makes this welcome return to the winner’s enclosure.
“It was a pretty special day,” he said. “It’s tough coming from a good week into another week, you kind of expect to play well. But I got off to a good start and felt comfortable.”
The South African birdied five holes on his front nine to establish a commanding lead and he never looked threatened on the run for home, as he picked up three further birdies to card a closing round of eight-under-par 64.
With the victory, Sterne should climb back into the top-60 on the Official World Golf Ranking. He’ll now have an eye on the top-50 with a view to earning an invite to the 2013 Masters.
“I’d like to get back into all the Majors,” he said. “That’s where I want to be playing.”
In the end it was Charl Schwartzel who emerged from a closely bunched pack to claim the runner’s-up spot. He had been hot favourite coming into this event and, had it not been for the brilliance of Sterne, would have justified that billing.
Chile’s Felipe Aguilar enjoyed another good week. He tied for third with George Coetzee of South Africa and Portugal’s Ricardo Santos.
The European Tour remains in South Africa for one more week. The Africa Open starts on Thursday at the East London Golf Club.
Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club, Johannesburg, South Africa
Feb 7 – 10, purse €1,300,000 par 72
1 Richard Sterne (RSA) 63 65 68 64 260 €206,050
2 Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 68 65 68 66 267 €149,500
T3 Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 67 66 68 67 268 €69,160
T3 George Coetzee (RSA) 67 64 70 67 268 €69,160
T3 Ricardo Santos (Por) 70 65 69 64 268 €69,160
T6 Thomas Aiken (RSA) 67 70 66 66 269 €38,783
T6 Trevor Fisher Jr (RSA) 66 62 68 73 269 €38,783
T6 Keith Horne (RSA) 67 66 71 65 269 €38,783
T9 Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 67 68 68 67 270 €26,780
T9 Garth Mulroy (RSA) 70 68 65 67 270 €26,780
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage
PGA Tour – Brandt Snedeker wins Pebble Beach Pro-Am