First big win for Van der Walt
Dawie van der Walt (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - Dawie van der Walt claimed his first European and Sunshine tour victory with a final round five under 67 to win the Tshwane Open at Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate on Sunday.
Van der Walt finished on 21 under 267 total, two shots ahead of Darren Fichardt in second in the co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event.
With the win, Van der Walt gains a European Tour exemption until the end of 2015.
With the exemption Van der Walt said he would hope to fulfil his ambition of playing on the US PGA Tour.
“Ultimately my goal is to play on the PGA Tour one day, so maybe going through the European Tour with all my exemptions it will be a lot easier getting there than going through the Web.com Tour,” said Van der Walt after his round.
Van der Walt lives in America and has full playing status on the second-tier Web.com Tour.
“I played pretty good, I hit the ball very well which helps.”
“I never had to chip which is not my strength. If you hit a lot of greens and don't three putt you should do well.”
“Every time I hit a shot I had a birdie shot, it wasn't like I was missing the greens, but it wasn't like I was hitting them to three feet.” Earlier, the final round began with four tied for the lead including Van der Walt, Fichardt, Charl Coetzee and Mark Tullo of Chile.
Fichardt pulled ahead after three holes as he moved to 18 under, but the 30-year-old Van der Walt hit back with an emphatic eagle on the long par five eighth.
There he found the putting surface in two and had no problem in holing the curling putt for eagle.
Two more birdies followed on the sixth and the seventh holes and he reached the turn in 20 under, one ahead of Fichardt at that stage.
On the tenth, Fichardt again found himself tied for the lead after Van der Walt three-putted for bogey.
On the par five 11th, Van der Walt was just short of the putting surface for two but failed to make the birdie to remain tied with Fichardt at that stage.
“I shouldn't have three putted (10), and I should have got it up and down (on 11), I would probably get it up and down 95 percent of the time from there.”
Van der Walt replied with a crucial birdie on the par four 12th.
There he holed a downhill left-to-right putt to move back to 20 under, while Fichardt from virtually the same spot could not hole out.
“I did think I wasted two shots there, but after Darren missed his putt I was still tied for the lead.
"Then I just thought if I played solid by making two or three birdies and it worked out well, but that was the turning point when I made that putt on 12.”
Van der Walt picked up another shot on the par four 15th to pull another stroke ahead, as Fichardt could not find a single birdie on the back nine.
For Fichardt, it was his eighth event in a row and could not manage to pull through for the win.
Leading Tshwane Open scores after the final round at the par-72, 7 791-yard (7 124m) Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate on Sunday (RSA unless noted):
267 - Dawie van der Walt 68-65-67-67
269 - Darren Fichardt 65-71-64-69
270 - Louis de Jager 71-65-65-69
271 - Peter Uihlein (USA) 68-66-68-69
272 - Bjorn Akesson (SWE) 66-75-66-65, Charl Coetzee 67-65-68-72, Danny Willett (ENG) 68-68-70-66
273 - Morten Orum Madsen (DEN) 70-67-69-67, Graham van der Merwe 70-66-68-69
274 - Desvonde Botes 69-70-71-64, Vaughn Groenewald 68-70-70-66, David Howell (ENG) 67-69-67-71, Hennie Otto 71-68-68-67, Jake Roos 69-67-69-69, Romain Wattel (FRA) 70-66-71-67
275 - Ross McGowan (ENG) 73-68-68-66, James Kamte 69-70-71-65, James Kingston 70-72-68-65, Garth Mulroy 69-70-69-67, Justin Walters 71-71-66-67