Home favourite Darren Fichardt held his nerve to win the weather-affected Joburg Open and claim his fifth European Tour title. The South African’s birdie at the par-5 18th hole gave him a final round 68 and a one-shot lead over Welshman Stuart Manley and England’s Paul Waring.
All of the top 10 finishers shot at least three under in their final round on the par-72 East Course at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club making the need for birdies critical during the closing stages.
Fichardt had a one-shot lead with two to play after the two British golfers made birdies in their closing holes but his only bogey of the day at the 17th saw him drop back into a tie and require his final hole heroics.
“The form I have been having the last couple of months has been horrendous but I decided at the beginning of the year that I was going to play as many tournaments as I can and just get my game right,” Fichardt said. “And yeah, it worked out. It’s good to win again and it’s just nice to see hard work paying off. It’s very nice!”
An additional reward for Fichardt and his two closest finishers was an automatic place at the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
The weather that had caused problems all weekend and a reduction to 54 holes, saw a further two-hour delay before play began on the final day although the finishers were treated to sunny conditions as the tournament came to its dramatic close.
The European Tour remains in South Africa for its next event, the Tshwane Open to be held at the Pretoria Club where former Masters Green Jacket winner Charl Schwartzel is the defending champion.