SA Open

Sterne wins again

2008-12-21 23:22
SA Open winner Richard Sterne (Gallo Images)

Pearl Valley - South Africa's Richard Sterne moved into the world's top 50 on Sunday after capturing the South African Open title at the Pearl Valley Golf Estate.

Sterne beat Northern Ireland's Gareth Maybin on the first play-off hole, the par-five 18th, after both had finished on 14-under-par 274 after four rounds.

The outcome means the second oldest national golf championship has been won by only six foreigners.

Sterne also captured the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek last weekend while he started the South African season by winning the Joburg Open.

"Going into the final round I never thought I had a chance," admitted Sterne. "I thought a score of 16 or 17 under would be needed, but here I am.

"There are a lot of emotions going through me right now as it means so much to me.

"This is one title I always wanted to win. The history of the tournament, with all those famous names on the trophy, and to have my name added to them is unbelievable. It's a real honour."

Sterne recorded a birdie four at the 18th in the playoff, while Maybin only managed a par after finding a fairway bunker off the tee.

Sterne forced his way into contention with a brilliant final-round 66, while Maybin settled for a two-under 70.

However, it could have been so different for the Irishman had his putter not let him down on the 18th in regulation play.

Needing to sink a birdie putt of no more than six feet to win, Maybin pushed his attempt wide, opening the way for Sterne to sneak past him in the play-off.

Overnight leader, England's Lee Westwood, will be disappointed after finishing in the top 10 for the umpteenth time this year.

Starting his round with a two-shot lead, Westwood had to settle for a one-over 73 and a share of third place with Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and South African Ernie Els.

While teenager McIlroy shot a steady 70, Els was impressive with a round of 64, the lowest of the day and will rue the 77 he recorded Saturday, which ultimately cost him a chance of the title.

English pair Richard Finch and Chris Wood and South Africans Branden Grace and Retief Goosen shared sixth position at 12 under par, while US Masters champion Trevor Immelman shot a final-round 67 to finish 10th at 11 under par.


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