Otto holds nerve to take South Africa Open


Golf:Hennie Otto produced the biggest birdie of his career today to win his home South African Open by a shot at Serengeti.

The 35-year-old, without a top-five finish on the European Tour since he captured the 2008 Italian Open, was three clear of Austrian Bernd Wiesberger with six holes to play.

Otto showed his nerves by failing to get out of a fairway bunker on the 13th, coming up short of the green at the 183-yard 15th and then duffing a chip on the par-five next. All three mistakes led to bogeys and all of a sudden they were level.

With Wiesberger already in the clubhouse, the big-hitting Otto drove through the green at the downwind 375-yard 17th, chipped to six feet and made the birdie putt.

There was still the water on the last to negotiate, but off a perfect drive he found the green and by two-putting for par took the title with a closing 72 and 14 under total of 274.

Having been three ahead overnight he told Sky Sports afterwards: “I worked out that if I shot four under (68) they would have to shoot seven under. It didn’t work out that way.

“There are some great names on the trophy and I said it would be great if I could add mine. Today’s the day.”

He is the sixth South African to win on the European circuit this season, following Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel (2), Thomas Aiken and Garth Mulroy.

For Wiesberger, who did close with a 68, it was a second runners-up finish of the year. He was in the five-man play-off won by Thomas Bjorn at the Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland in August.

Joint third were Aiken, compatriot Ockie Strydom and England’s Richard McEvoy after he too scored 68 — a performance that earns him a Tour card for next season after he came into the week 121st on the money list, three places outside the cut-off mark, and moved all the way to 107th.

Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin, on the other hand, slipped from 118th to 120th after finishing well down the field, but he does still have the Hong Kong Open to come this week.

Twice winner Retief Goosen managed only a 73 and dropped into a tie for sixth, but it was still a far better week for him than it was for five-time champion Els.

Still in with a chance on six under at halfway, Els followed his third round 76 with a 79 and came joint 69th of the 72 players who survived the cut.

Steven O’Hara, who led at halfway and needed a top-three finish to save his card, fell away to 25th and fellow Scot Lloyd Saltman faces a return to the qualifying school as well after a double bogey six on the last dropped him to ninth.

If the former amateur star had parred the hole he would have been joint third and would have earned a spot in Hong Kong.

His closing 70 included eight birdies, but also a bogey six on the long third and a triple-bogey six at the ninth.