Schwartzel holds on for Africa title

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The Independent Online

Charl Schwartzel claimed his fourth European Tour title after his final round 67 was good enough to help him win the Africa Open in East London, South Africa yesterday.

The South African, the highest ranked player in the field at 66, ended with a total of 272 – 20 under par overall – to edge out co-overnight leader Thomas Aiken by a stroke.

Aiken, who shared the lead with Trevor Fisher Jr, failed to produce the promising form he showed earlier in the week, which included a pair of 67s and a 69 and had to settle for a 70. His most decisive moment came on the par-four fifth hole, where he double-bogeyed.

Another South African Jbe' Kruger finished in third place on 18 under after a 70, while Fisher Jr's 72 – the worst among the leaders – dropped him into a share of fourth place with Chris Swanepoel and the two highest placed foreigners in the field, Englishman James Morrison and Rick Kulacz from Australia.

James Kingston and veteran Miles Tunnicliff were among seven players tied for eighth place a shot further back.Richard Sterne, another of the pre-competition favourites alongside the eventual winner and Kingston, tried his best to revive his chances with a bogey-free 67, but it was only enough to get him to 15 under. Northern Irishman Darren Clarke's three-under round enabled him to finish three shots further back on 12 under for a 280 total and 28th place.

But the day belonged to Schwartzel, despite having to endure a nerve-wracking wait as he watched the leading two groups finish their rounds. The 25-year-old, whose previous tournament wins came at the 2005 Alfred Dunhill Championship, the 2007 Open de Espana and the 2008 Madrid Masters, could have all-but sealed the title with a par on the 18th hole after failing to drop a shot over his previous 17 holes. But his bogey allowed an opening for the chasing Aiken, but he missed a 15-foot putt for birdie at the last that would have forced a play-off.

Schwartzel said: "I played so good all day, I didn't miss a shot and then down on 18 I just came out of it. It was not quite what I was looking for and I put a little pressure on myself there to make five at the end.

"I said to my caddie Wynand after I hit my second shot short right, 'We're still two ahead, so let's make five and let them make the birdie and it worked out in my favour." Schwartzel added.