Rampant Charl storms to victory
For the second week in a row, Charl Schwartzel obliterated a field of golfers as his three-under round of 69 on the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek was enough to claim a 12-stroke victory in the €1.5 million event on Sunday.
The diminutive Schwartzel, who last week won by 11 strokes at the Thailand Golf Championships, came into the final round with a commanding 10-shot advantage over France’s Gregory Bourdy and started steadily with seven consecutive pars.
A bogey at the eighth hole did no more than tarnish his scorecard, as he birdied the very next hole before play was halted due to a thunderstorm.
The two-hour delay did little to hamper the in-form 2004 champion’s progress, as he continued to threaten the flagsticks and three further birdies enabled him to cruise to the comprehensive winning total of 24 under-par.
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“I thought I started off well today and through the first six holes I had an opportunity on every hole. I hit good putts that didn’t go in. Then the three-putt on eight put a stop to things and Gregory started to make some birdies.
“And then it got down to seven shots and that to me was as close as I wanted it to be. I was happy to make that birdie on nine just to pull the momentum back in my favour, because seven shots around this course is catchable. It’s not like it’s out of reach, it’s not a comfort, so I was happy to make that birdie on nine just before the rain delay.
“After the rain delay we came back and I played some nice, solid golf and put myself back in the driver’s seat,” a delighted Schwartzel said.
Schwartzel, who won the title in 2004, was delighted to etch his name on the trophy again, and the win still carried strong significance for the man from Vereeniging.
“It’s great. For so long I’ve wanted to win here again. It’s been such a special place for me and I love coming here. It’s also where it started – I got my first win here, a European win, and I was desperate to get this leopard sculpture trophy,” Schwartzel said.
“The one I’ve got is still the old cup. This is what I wanted and I’ve come close a few times in the past. I’ve been second a numerous amount of times, so it’s nice to eventually win again here,” he added.
Although Schwartzel received the winner’s cheque for over R2.6 million, it was Branden Grace who clinched the 2012 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit title in the final event of the season after a final round of 74 secured a finish in a tie for 12th place.
Although disappointed with his efforts on the final day, the title rounded off a sensational year for the 24 year-old.
“I’m very chuffed. Winning the Order of Merit is all I wanted to do this year. A bit of disappointment with the finish, but I still played well. A couple of bounces didn’t go my way around the edges, so I’m chuffed with the week and it’s been a great season. It’s been a great finish to an awesome season.
“The Order of Merit is very important. Every guy that plays golf out here on the Sunshine Tour wants their name on the trophy at the end of the season.
“Reflection will come now. I’ve sat back a little bit and thought about what I’ve done, but not everything has sunk in yet. I think that when I have this break now I can really sit back, tick it off and realise that it’s been a great year. Hopefully 2013 can be anything near as good as this was,” Grace said.
The chasing pack were always fighting it out for second place, and for much of the day it looked as though Bourdy was on course for the runner-up’s cheque.
However, a calamitous double-bogey on the final hole meant he fell back to 11-under, and the Frenchman had to settle for a tie for third place as Swede Kristoffer Broberg earned sole possession of second with his final round of 70.
264 - Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 67-64-64-69
276 - Kristoffer Broberg (SWE) 70-69-67-70
277 - Scott Jamieson (SCO) 70-68-71-68, Garth Mulroy (RSA) 71-68-70-68, Andy Sullivan (ENG) 73-71-64-69, Gregory Bourdy (FRA) 66-65-74-72
278 - Richard Sterne (RSA) 70-68-70-70, Keith Horne (RSA) 70-69-68-71, Steve Webster (ENG) 67-69-70-72
279 - George Coetzee (RSA) 71-70-73-65, Richard Bland (ENG) 67-73-71-68
280 - David Howell (ENG) 70-73-70-67, Tyrone van Aswegen (RSA) 70-68-71-71, Branden Grace (RSA) 68-71-67-74
281 - Richard McEvoy (ENG) 69-70-74-68, Peter Lawrie (IRL) 70-71-69-71, Danie van Tonder (RSA) 72-70-67-72
282 - Magnus A Carlsson (SWE) 71-69-72-70, Danny Willett (ENG) 70-73-67-72
283 - Alessandro Tadini (ITA) 72-70-71-70, Justin Walters (RSA) 73-71-68-71, Tjaart van der Walt (RSA) 72-68-71-72, Lorenzo Gagli (ITA) 71-71-68-73, Darren Fichardt (RSA) 67-68-73-75
284 - Desvonde Botes (RSA) 75-69-69-71, Gary Lockerbie (ENG) 73-70-69-72, Bjorn Akesson (SWE) 71-70-70-73, Oscar Floren (SWE) 69-70-70-75, David Drysdale (SCO) 69-72-68-75
285 - Marc Warren (SCO) 73-71-75-66, Eddie Pepperell (ENG) 74-70-73-68, Espen Kofstad (NOR) 69-71-74-71, Michael Jonzon (SWE) 74-67-71-73, Doug McGuigan (RSA) 71-71-68-75, Louis de Jager (RSA) 67-69-73-76, John Parry (ENG) 72-70-67-76