Dawie van der Welt takes Nelson Mandela Championship

South African shoots final round 66 in rain disrupted tournament

Dawie Van Der Welt of South Africa plays a shot during the final round of the Nelson Mandela Championship at Mount Edgecombe Country Club. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Dawie Van Der Welt of South Africa plays a shot during the final round of the Nelson Mandela Championship at Mount Edgecombe Country Club. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Sat, Dec 14, 2013, 15:57

Dawie van der Welt held his nerve over the closing holes to win the Nelson Mandela Championship by two shots and claim only his second European Tour title.

In a tournament reduced to 54 holes following several rain disruptions, the South African followed up rounds of 67 and 62 with a score of 66 to sit at the top of the pile on 15 under par in Durban.

Van Der Welt mixed three birdies with as many bogeys on the opening 11 holes but moved to the top of the leaderboard with an eagle on the par-five 12th, then picking up further shots on the 13th and 15th to finish ahead of England’s Matthew Baldwin and Spaniard Jorge Campillo.

David Higgins finished as the best of the Irish, his final round 70 left him tied 11th overall, seven shots behind the winner. Michael Hoey and Damien Grane shot a 74 and 69 respectively to see them finish tied for 50th overall.

The 30-year-old van der Welt, who won his first Tour event in the Tshwane Open in March, admitted it was an emotional victory coming so soon after the death of Mandela, South Africa’s first black president who died last week aged 95.

“It’s obviously really special, making you a part of history,” he told www.europeantour.com. “Winning The Nelson Mandela at this time, when it’s sad for everyone, everyone is mourning and tomorrow’s the big day (Mandela’s funeral), it means a lot and it’s something I can keep close to my heart for ever.

“I haven’t been in that good form, I’ve been struggling with an injury, so this is almost overwhelming.

“To win the last event of the year is going to make Christmas a lot more fun.”

Baldwin carded 68 on his final round with four birdies and two bogeys for an overall score of 13 under to share second place with Campillo, who picked up three shots and a bogey to also card 68.

Campillo had been one of two players — along with South African Colin Nel — to score 59 during Friday’s second round.

They were the first recorded 59s in European Tour history but both scores were achieved after using preferred lies following heavy downpours which left the course waterlogged and will therefore not count as official records.

Englishman Daniel Brook had held the overnight lead sitting on 12 under through 11 holes of his second round, when bad light had stopped play, but fell away on Saturday with a nightmare third round in which he posted five bogeys and a double bogey on fourth.