Stenson clinches SA Open
Henrik Stenson held off a brave challenge from George Coetzee to win the South African Open Championship at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate by three strokes and claim his seventh European Tour title.
Stenson fired a one-under round of 71 to finish on 17-under, which proved to be enough as Coetzee could only manage a 71 himself.
A bogey on the sixth hole and a double-bogey on the par-three ninth contributed to a nervy outward 38 for the Swede, and he was level pegging with Coetzee at the turn. Stenson recovered to birdie the par-four tenth hole, but the South African responded with a fine birdie at the 11th to rein him in. However, Stenson never faltered as his six pars coming home were complemented by two crucial birdies at the 16th and 17th holes to close out the event.
“I hit a couple of loose ones out there, and obviously the one on nine was a bit like that. I left the club behind a little bit; wrapped it and hooked it into the hazard which wasn’t a great time to do that.
“Sometimes you need a poor one to wake you up and make you more determined so that you’re committed on the next one. I was in the driver’s seat for most of the week, so it was good the way it turned out. It’s nice to seal the deal and it wouldn’t have been nice not to,” he said.
The event is the second oldest Open championship in the world and, even for a golfer who hails from foreign shores, winning the trophy still means a lot to Stenson.
“I’ve won some great tournaments in my career so far, but winning these traditional championships has got that extra ring to it. It’s very humbling to get your name on a trophy where we’ve had so many great champions over the past. Gary was on there 13 times! I’m not sure I’m going to be able to match that, but I’ll try my best to come back at some point and get another inscription on there,” he said.
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Coetzee, who still awaits his maiden European Tour victory, eagled the par-five third hole to send out a warning shot to his playing partner. But two successive bogeys followed, and although he was tied with Stenson walking down the 15th, he didn’t have the firepower to get over the line. The big man from Pretoria tapped in at the 18th to a rousing reception from the home crowd, and pocketed a cheque for €115,000 courtesy of his sole-second placed finish.
Stenson also had warm words for the burly 26 year-old.
“I’m sure he’s a bit disappointed, but he played well and he’ll get that win within due time. He’s going to win sooner or later,” the Swede said.
Martin Kaymer’s tournament improved after a slow start, and he carded six birdies en route to a final round of 67 to finish 13-under par. Thomas Aiken matched Kaymer’s score of 67, and finished in a share of third place with the German. Charl Schwartzel finished two further strokes back after a 67 saw the former Masters champion claim fifth place.
Stenson became only the second foreign player to lift the SA Open trophy since 2001, and his winner’s cheque for €158,500 comfortably secured his place in the Race to Dubai final. It ends something of a victory-drought for the 36 year-old, as his last win came at Sawgrass in May 2009. But, given how flawless his golf was this week, he might well be a decent bet for a win in the Emirates next week.
Henrik Stenson (Sweden) 66 65 69 71
274 George Coetzee (South Africa) 70 70 63 71
275 Thomas Aiken (South Africa) 73 66 69 67,
Martin Kaymer (Germany) 70 70 68 67
277 Charl Schwartzel (South Africa) 68 68 74 67
279 Tommy Fleetwood (Britain) 70 69 71 69,
Darren Fichardt (South Africa) 68 70 68 73,
Magnus Carlsson (Sweden) 68 67 68 76
280 Hennie Otto (South Africa) 71 72 75 62 ,
Michael Jonzon (Sweden) 68 69 71 72
281 Oliver Bekker (South Africa) 68 69 74 70,
Shaun Norris (South Africa) 72 70 67 72
282 Adrien Bernadet (France) 68 71 74 69,
Lloyd Saltman (Britain) 70 66 75 71,
Jake Roos (South Africa) 68 71 71 72,
Trevor Fisher (South Africa) 69 70 71 72
283 Marc Warren (Britain) 70 69 71 73,
Michiel Bothma (South Africa) 69 69 71 74,
Allan Versfeld (South Africa) 69 69 70 75
284 Desvonde Botes (South Africa) 71 71 74 68,
Richard Sterne (South Africa) 69 70 75 70,
Michael Hollick (South Africa) 72 71 70 71,
Markus Brier (Austria) 71 71 70 72,
James Kingston (South Africa) 71 68 72 73,
Knut Borsheim (Norway) 73 69 69 73,
Martin Wiegele (Austria) 72 69 70 73,
Matthew Carvell (South Africa) 66 72 70 76
285 Peter Whiteford (Britain) 69 69 72 75
286 Anthony Snobeck (France) 69 73 73,
Chris Swanepoel (South Africa) 73 69 71 73,
James Kamte (South Africa) 69 74 68 75 ,
Ryan Cairns (Zimbabwe) 69 71 71 75