Fichardt takes a wobble but he doesn't fall down
Darren Fichardt of South Africa, who carded a one-under-par 71 final-round to win the Africa Open by two strokes yesterday. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
South African Darren Fichardt survived a late wobble to claim a two-shot win on home soil at the Africa Open in East London yesterday and clinched him a prize of €158,500.
Fichardt, the joint overnight leader, held on for victory, despite dropping three shots in his last five holes to finish the day with a one-under-par 71.
That put him on 16 under for the tournament and earned him his fourth European Tour title, with compatriot Jaco Van Zyl and France’s Gregory Bourdy finishing in a tie for second.
Fichardt’s previous victories came in France last year, Qatar in 2003 and Brazil in 2001, sealed his first Tour title on home soil. He now climbs to 13th place in the Race to Dubai money list.
Ireland’s David Higgins had a disappointing final round score of 74 after Saturday’s round of 69. The Waterville man finished on a total of 281, nine shots back from the victorious South African.
Fichardt had moved four under par for the day with birdies at the first, third, seventh and 13th, reaching the turn with a four-shot lead, meaning his late slump did not prove costly.
“I started losing focus,” Fichardt said afterwards. “I was four shots ahead and I started taking it for granted. I was putting unbelievably and then I missed a short putt at the 14th and thought ‘what’s going on here?’ I then made two more bogeys, and all of a sudden I was struggling a little bit. The last few holes here are really tough, especially in the conditions, so I was just pleased to get the job done in the end.
“I always seem to play well in the wind, and I just love playing this course,” he added. “You really have to think about what shot you’re going to play. So I always enjoy coming here, and obviously winning the tournament makes the week especially enjoyable.”
Van Zyl tied for the lead with Fichardt going into the final day and was his main challenger over the last 18 holes before a bogey at the last, his third of the round, left him with a 73.
Bourdy had a 70; consecutive birdies at the 14th, 15th and 16th giving him hope of catching Fichardt before a bogey at the 17th all but ended it.
A third South African, Garth Mulroy, was fourth on 13 under following a final-round 67, while England’s Andy Sullivan also enjoyed a decent closing day. Sullivan shot a 68 to finish on 11 under in a four-way tie for fifth place.