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Golf | SA

Darren Fichardt © Gallo Images

Fichardt wins Africa Open



Darren Fichardt clinched his fourth European Tour victory as his final round of 71 in the Africa Open Golf Challenge at East London Golf Club on Sunday was enough to finish on a 16-under par total of 272 and secure a two-stroke victory over Jaco van Zyl (73) and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy (70).

South African Garth Mulroy’s 67 was one of the rounds of the day, and saw him wrap up fourth place a further stroke adrift on 13 under. Desvonde Botes's final round of 70 elevated him into a share of fifth on 11-under with compatriot Tjaart van der Walt (71), Chile’s Mark Tullo (71) and Englishman Andy Sullivan (68).

Fichardt began the day level with Van Zyl, and the pair both enjoyed comfortable birdies at the par-five first hole. Van Zyl then edged ahead with a birdie at the second, but Fichardt responded as he holed useful birdie putts on the third and seventh holes.

Van Zyl then suffered bogeys at the ninth and 12th holes, and by the time Fichardt birdied the 13th, the 33-year-old Van Zyl had been cut four shots adrift. Fichardt stuttered though, as a missed putt for par from three feet at the 14th triggered a run of three bogeys in four holes. Three birdies in a row on the back nine from Bourdy in the group ahead saw him storm into the mix, but a par for Fichardt at the final hole proved to be enough for his first European Tour victory on home soil.

“It was really tough out there with that wind,” Fichardt said. “I was expecting it to be tough, but on this course the wind comes through valleys so it’s never directly in front or behind you – it just kind of knocks your ball down and it becomes difficult to judge distances.”

“But I hung in there well. I made some really good putts this week, and that carried on today. I probably lost a bit of focus on the 14th there, and maybe took it for granted. You just can’t do that, and you get punished for it. But I managed to hit a good second shot there on the last hole and luckily that was enough,” he added.

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The win sees Fichardt move into the top 100 on the Official World Golf Rankings, and, with 20 professional wins to his credit, the 37-year-old believes he is ready to take his game to the next level.

“It’s really great to move up the rankings like that. There’s so many great perks that come with winning and I’m very chuffed to have done it this week. But now I want to keep moving upwards, and start playing regularly in majors. That’s definitely my next big goal,” he noted.

For Van Zyl, the agonising wait for a maiden European Tour victory continues, and he was forced to settle for a fifth top three finish of his career. But Fichardt had warm words for his long-time friend, and believes it is only a matter of time before he gets his name on a European Tour trophy.

“Obviously it’s going to be a bit tough for Jaco to swallow this one, and he’s come close a few times now like in Morocco. But he’s going to win – he’s way too good not to. He’ll win and he’ll win and he’ll win. You just need that first breakthrough and then it flows from there,” Fichardt said confidently.

FINAL SCORES

272- Darren Fichardt 69-67-65-71

274 - Gregory Bourdy (FRA) 70-67-67-70, Jaco van Zyl 66-67-68-73

275 - Garth Mulroy 72-67-69-67

277 - Desvonde Botes 74-67-66-70 , Andy Sullivan (ENG) 70-70-69-68, Mark Tullo (CHI) 69-69-68-71, Tjaart van der Walt 70-68-68-71

278 - Andrew Curlewis 69-73-69-67 , Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 70-71-64-73, Ricardo Santos (POR) 71-66-70-71

279 - Thomas Aiken 74-70-66-69 , Brett Rumford (AUS) 71-70-68-70, Adilson da Silva (BRA) 62-68-73-76

280 - Seve Benson (ENG) 71-71-68-70, James Kingston 69-71-69-71

281 - Lorenzo Gagli (ITA) 73-69-66-73, David Higgins (IRL) 70-68-69-74, John Parry (ENG) 68-66-73-74

282 - Jorge Campillo (ESP) 73-70-63-76, Morton Orum Madsen (DEN) 71-69-67-75

283 - Bjorn Akesson (SWE) 70-70-71-72, Oliver Bekker 69-67-72-75, Lyle Rowe 74-67-71-71 , Chris Paisley (ENG) 73-70-69-71, Eddie Pepperell (ENG) 77-67-67-72

284 - David Drysdale (SCO) 74-67-71-72, Trevor Fisher 72-69-69-74 , Maximilian Keiffer (GER) 71-72-67-74, Matthew Nixon (ENG) 77-67-67-73, Lee Slattery (ENG) 74-68-68-74

285 - Wallie Coetsee 69 73 75 68, Jake Roos 72 72 72 69, James Morrison (ENG) 72 72 69 72, Danie van Tonder 73 71 68 73, John Moore (USA) 76 67 68 74, Niclas Fasth (SWE) 72 71 67 75, Keith Horne 76 68 66 75, Phillip Price (WAL) 69 74 66 76

286 - Vaughn Groenewald 71 73 71 71, Merrick Bremner 72 71 70 73

287 - Magnus A Carlsson (SWE) 73 70 74 70, Brandon Pieters 76 68 70 73, Derik Ferreira 69 70 74 74, Doug McGuigan 78 66 69 74, Alexandre Kaleka (FRA) 72 67 73 75, Charl Coetzee 73 70 67 77, Mikko Korhonen (FIN) 70 73 66 78

288 - Michael Jonzon (SWE) 69 74 73 72, Christiaan Basson 72 68 75 73, Andreas Harto (DEN) 72 72 71 73, Joost Luiten (NED) 74 67 73 74, Louis de Jager 72 71 70 75, Simon Wakefield (ENG) 70 73 69 76, Robert-Jan Derksen (NED) 72 72 68 76, Ulrich van den Berg 71 68 72 77, Ignacio Garrido (ESP) 69 72 70 77, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 69 72 69 78

289 - Anthony Snobeck (FRA) 72 71 73 73, Jbe Kruger 73 71 71 74, Andrew Marshall (ENG) 75 66 73 75, Peter Erofejeff (FIN) 73 68 73 75, Lasse Jensen(DEN) 72 69 72 76, Ross McGowan (ENG) 73 69 71 76, Warren Abery 73 71 69 76, Tyrone Mordt 71 69 71 78

290 - Christian Cevaer (FRA) 74 70 76 70, Alessandro Tadini (ITA) 71 73 72 74, Daniel Greene 70 74 71 75, Matthew Baldwin (ENG) 74 70 68 78

291 - Matteo Delpodio (ITA) 72 68 74 77, Christopher Doak (SCO) 74 67 71 79, Alexander Levy (FRA) 73 66 72 80

292 - Justin Walters 72 71 69 80

293 - Ryan Strauss 71 71 73 78, Titch Moore 74 70 69 80

294 - Jaco Ahlers 71 73 75 75

298 - Mark Williams 73 71 81 73

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