Schwartzel takes Africa Open

2010-01-11 00:00

EAST LONDON — Charl Schwartzel bogeyed the 18th hole in the final round of the €1 million Africa Open at the 6 191-metre par-73 East London Golf Club, but he had done enough to take the title by a single stroke from South African compatriot Thomas Aiken.

He finished on 20-under 272 in the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour, the third event in the 2010 Race to Dubai.

“It was not the ideal tee shot when I pushed it right on 18,” he said, “but I said to my caddie that we should take five and leave Thomas with a birdie to force a playoff.”

There was a brief moment when Schwartzel thought Aiken had birdied 17 and drawn level, but the big scoreboard had it wrong for about three minutes as the eventual champion looked on anxiously from the score-recorder’s booth.

It was Schwartzel’s fourth European Tour win — he took the 2004/05 Alfred Dunhill championship, the 2007 Open de Espana and the 2008 Madrid Masters — and it capped a run of form that left him wondering week-in and week-out when form would be converted to victory.

“I really just needed a little bit of luck,” he said. “I have been playing well, and when I shot 70 on Friday, I had no luck at all. Who knows what that round could have been.”

Aiken, who led into the final round with Trevor Fisher jnr, was left regretting a double-bogey six on the innocuous-looking 303-metre fifth.

That let Schwartzel open up a gap which was eventually too big to close. He had a three-stroke advantage on the 16th tee and then had to wait things out as Aiken made a birdie on 15 to close things to two down the stretch.

In the end, Aiken had a 15-footer for birdie, and, although he got it close, he was unable to force the playoff.

Behind Aiken, Jbe’ Kruger and Fisher shared third on 18-under 274, with Australia’s Rick Kulacz, England’s James Morrison and South African Chris Swanepoel in fifth one shot further back.

Round of the day belonged to Branden Grace of SA, who made a valiant charge at the lead with his seven-under par 66 which included three eagles.

“I just couldn’t keep the bogeys and other rubbish off my card,” he said after he finished on 16-under 276.

He ended up sharing eighth with fellow South Africans James Kingston and Michiel Bothma, Swede Pelle Edberg and England’s Miles Tunnicliff.

In the end, Schwartzel’s consistency was what won the title for him: “I think I dropped just five shots the whole week,” he said. And there were indeed, just three bogeys and a double on his card for the tournament.

Sterne, who had a promising start to the competition and was looking for a place in the SA records, lost his Saturday lead after a number of bad hits and his hopes of grabbing the title were dashed.

 

Leading final-round scores (RSA unless specified):

272 - Charl Schwartzel 67 70 68 67

273 - Thomas Aiken 67 67 69 70

274 - Jbe’ Kruger 69 68 67 70

275 - Rick Kulacz (AUS) 72 69 67 67, James Morrison (ENG) 68 70 69 68, Chris Swanepoel 71 68 68 68, Trevor Fisher Jnr 66 66 71 72

276 - Branden Grace 70 70 70 66, James Kingston 68 69 71 68, Michiel Bothma 69 69 70 68, Pelle Edberg (SWE) 69 68 70 69, Miles Tunnicliff (ENG) 68 71 67 70

277 - Richard Sterne 66 71 73 67, Benn Barham (ENG) 71 70 68 68, Patrik Sjoland (SWE) 66 67 75 69, Klas Eriksson (SWE) 70 66 71 70, Marco Ruiz (PAR) 69 70 68 70

278 - Fredrik Andersson Hed (SWE) 74 66 68 70, Keith Horne 67 67 73 71, Jake Roos 68 71 66 73

Selected:

279 - Neil Schietekat 69 69 71 70

280 - Louis de Jager 69 68 74 69, Darren Clarke (NIR) 69 70 71 70, Joost Luiten (NED) 69 71 70 70, Martin Maritz 69 71 69 71, George Coetzee 68 72 67 73

281 - Scott Hend (AUS) 72 69 71 69, Matthew Zions (AUS) 72 69 70 70, Jose-Filipe Lima (POR) 68 72 69 72, Titch Moore 66 72 70 73, Peter Baker (ENG) 70 70 68 73, Anthony Michael 71 70 67 73, Oliver Bekker 69 70 68 74, TC Charamba (ZIM) 72 67 68 74

282 - Tjaart van der Walt 67 71 74 70

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