EAST LONDON, South Africa -- Darren Fichardt survived a late wobble Sunday to win his fourth European Tour title by two shots after closing with a round of 71 on the final day of the Africa Open.
Fichardt, whose previous victories came in France last year, Qatar in 2003 and Brazil in 2001, sealed his first Tour title on home soil after finishing on 16 under par at East London Golf Club.
With most of his rivals struggling to cope with the stiff breeze on the Eastern Cape, Fichardt looked to be cruising to victory, having established a comfortable lead courtesy of his fourth birdie of the day at the 13th hole.
But after dropped shots at the 14th, 16th and 17th holes, the gap to his nearest challenger, Jaco Van Zyl, had been reduced to just one stroke. And when his drive on the final hole found the rough on the right side of the fairway, Fichardt’s title charge appeared to be unraveling.
But he produced a superb approach to the heart of the green and, when Van Zyl was unable to get up and down from the side of the green, Fichardt was left with three putts for the title.
He duly rolled his first putt to two feet and tapped in for par to secure the win and climb to 13th place in The Race to Dubai money list.
“I started losing focus after my birdie putt on the 13th. I was four shots clear at that point and I probably took the win for granted, but you can’t afford to do that,” he said. “I missed a short one on the 14th and 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 don’t play too many courses like this overseas, where there are lots of options and 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’s closing round of 73 saw the South African fall back into a tie for second place on 14 under par alongside Frenchman Gregory Bourdy, who signed off with a round of 70 for a 14 under par aggregate total. Van Zyl’s compatriot Garth Mulroy took fourth place on 13 under par.