SA golfer King of the European Tour

2007-12-17 00:00

PAARL — South Africa’s James Kingston claimed his first European Tour title when he won the South African Open by one stroke at Pearl Valley Golf Estates yesterday.

The 42-year-old has won four times on the Asian Tour and nine times on the Sunshine Tour, but has finished runner-up on three previous occasions on the European Tour.

Kingston saw off England’s Oliver Wilson, who finished on a three-under-par 285, with a one-under-par 71 yesterday that saw him end on four-under for the tournament.

His victory also ensured the trophy stayed in the republic for the eighth straight year. “I came into today with such a positive state of mind after the physios gave me a video on positive thinking last night,” Kingston said.

“I’ve been in this situation before and I guess somewhere down the line you learn from when you don’t get the job done.

“I’ve come close before in the South African Open and I always think about Glendower in 1993 when Clinton Whitelaw won. We tied for the lead going down the 11th, but I made a stupid bogey and lost by three shots. It all came down to the same sort of situation today.”

Kingston started the final round one stroke behind Wilson, who lost the lead on the first hole after a bogey five.

Despite Wilson dropping two more shots on the front nine, Kingston was unable to break free as he found the water on the par-three fourth hole for a double bogey and also dropped a shot on the ninth.

Wilson rallied with birdies at the 10th and 11th holes, but Kingston held his nerve and completed the victory with a two-putt par on the par-five 18th as darkness settled over Pearl Valley.

Kingston’s triumph also saw him soar to the top of the final Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, which gains him entry into the British Open, the British Masters, the Dunhill Links Championship, the American Express World Golf Championship event, the HSBC Champions tournament; the Dubai Desert Classic and the Sun City Challenge.

Darren Clarke powered to a four-under-par 68 to share third place on one-under with Wales’s Kyron Sullivan and two South Africans, American campaigner Garth Mulroy and Louis Oosthuizen.

Mulroy moved to within a stroke of the lead after an opening nine of one-under-par, but lost his chances for the title by promptly bogeying the 10th hole and double-bogeying the 11th.

Former world number one Greg Norman shot a one-under-par 71 to finish on level-par for the tournament, tied for seventh place with journeymen Craig Lile, Nic Henning and England’s Robert Rock.

Defending champion Ernie Els’s tournament hopes were over after a 77 in the third round, but the did finish on a high note with his best round of the week, a three-under-par 69 that saw him vault into a tie for 16th.

Retief Goosen, Richard Sterne and Charl Schwartzel were the leading figures tied with Els on five-over for the tournament. Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, the reigning U.S. Open champion, shot a 70 in the final round to finish on seven-over and in the tie for 28th position. — Reuters.

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