Van der Walt wins Tshwane Open by two, his first European Tour victory

Dawie Van der Walt at the Tshwane Open
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Dawie Van der Walt won the Tashwane Open, his first professional title, at age 30.
By news services

Series: European Tour

Published: Sunday, March 03, 2013 | 1:32 p.m.

CENTURION, South Africa -- Dawie Van der Walt became the fifth South African winner in 10 European Tour events this season with his two-shot victory at the Tshwane Open on Sunday.

Van der Walt posted a final round 5-under 67 to finish at 21-under overall for his first win on the Tour.

The Texas-based golfer is ranked 436th in the world. Van der Walt was among four players tied for the lead after the third round, including fellow South African Darren Fichardt, who shot 69 to finish second at 19 under in the inaugural playing of the event co-sanctioned by the European Tour and southern Africa’s Sunshine Tour.

''You start doubting yourself and at 30 years old you start to wonder if you're good enough, and this shows me that I am,'' Van der Walt said. ''I would have liked to win before 30, but I'll definitely take this. Golf is a game where you don't get a lot of chances to win, and to do it is fantastic.

''I hit the ball really good and I never really had to chip, which is not my strength. If you hit a lot of greens and don't three-putt then you're going to do well.''

Local favorite Fichardt, who lives 10 minutes away from the Ernie Els-designed course at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate, broke the early deadlock atop the leaderboard with birdies at Nos. 2 and 3.

Van der Walt then countered by holing a 40-foot putt for eagle at the longest hole in the 41-year history of the European Tour – the the 685-yard, par-5 fourth hole. Fichardt responded with a birdie at the fifth, but Van Der Walt birdied the sixth and seventh holes and held the lead from there.

South African Louis De Jager posted a 69 to finish third on 18 under.

2010 U.S. Amateur Champion Peter Uihlein is still seeking his first pro win. He was fourth with a 69 that included an eighth hole-eagle for a 17 under total.

Third-round co-leader Mark Tullo blew up with a run of bogey, double bogey, bogey from the 11th to slip right out of contention, while Charl Coetzee was handed a one-shot penalty for slow play to end his lingering hopes.

Fichardt, looking for his second home-soil win in the space of three weeks after capturing the Africa Open, remained Van der Walt's biggest threat but just couldn't find birdies on the back nine.

Van der Walt, who shot a final-round 60 when runner-up in the Tour's Cox Classic in America last August, increased his lead to two shots with a two-putt birdie on 15 and made safe pars at 16 and 17 to keep his cushion heading up the last.

There was one last scare when he raced his birdie putt by at the last but, when Fichardt missed his 15-footer for a three to make it nine straight pars on the back nine, Van der Walt holed the return effort to close out his first pro victory.