EAST LONDON, SOUTH AFRICA | Charl Schwartzel,
the highest-ranked player in the field, won the Africa
Open by one stroke Sunday. The world No. 66
claimed his fourth European Tour title and first since
the 2008 Madrid Masters when he held off fellow
South African Thomas Aiken after a closing 6-under-
par 67 secured a 20-under total of 272 at the par-73
East London Club.
Aiken, who shared the third-round lead with
Trevor Fisher Jr., was chasing his first European Tour
victory. Even after a double-bogey six on the innocu-ous-looking 331-yard fifth hole, he still had a chance
to force a playoff when he missed left with a 15-foot
birdie putt on the par- 4 18th.
For Schwartzel, the win capped a run of good form
that left him wondering week-in and week-out if it
would ever convert into a victory.
pressure on me,” Schwartzel said. “But I knew if I
made five on the last he would have to make birdie to
get to me. Luckily I did what I needed to do.”
South African Jbe’ Kruger (70) finished third at
274, one ahead of compatriots Fisher (72) and Chris
Swanepoel (68), Briton James Morrison (68) and
Australian Rick Kulacz (67).
Schwartzel, who dropped only one shot Sunday,
made seven birdies, including a run of four in the
first seven holes. He was three ahead after hitting a
superb approach to three feet for a birdie at the par- 4
14th. Schwartzel picked up another stroke at the 15th
but Aiken had three back-nine birdies.
The round of the day belonged to Brandon Grace
of South Africa, who made a valiant charge at the lead
with a 7-under-par 66 that included three eagles. “I
just couldn’t keep the bogeys and other rubbish off
my card,” he said after he finished at 16-under 276.
The 30-year-old Fisher, seeking his first European
Tour title, held or shared the lead through the first
three rounds. He and Aiken went to the final round
tied atop the leaderboard at 16-under par.
Fisher overcame two bogeys in his first five holes
Saturday thanks to back-to-back birdies on the par- 4
14th and the par- 5 15th.
“I hit some good shots coming in and luckily I felt
comfortable in the wind,” he said. “My short game
was just there today and it is not normally this good.
Fisher, who battled a stomach bug during his
third round, said, after 54 holes, that the prospect
of contending for his first European Tour title was
not something that he would worry too much about.
‘’Whatever happens tomorrow happens. I’m not in it
to beat anyone down, the best man will win,” he said.
Unfortunately for Fisher, his closing 72 was the
highest among the top finishers.
The Africa Open is co-sanctioned by the European
Tour and South Africa’s Sunshine Tour.
Trevor Fisher Jr., chasing his first European Tour title, was a
co-leader after three rounds but finished with a 72.