Sunshine Tour

Fichardt wins Joburg Open with last-hole birdie

2017-02-26 17:39
Darren Fichardt (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Darren Fichardt called his caddie over to help him read the putt that would win him the Joburg Open on Sunday, but in the end, he was left to his own devices as he sank the two-footer which gave him a one-shot victory at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

After bogeying the 17th on the East course, he needed the birdie on 18 to edge one clear of Stuart Manley of Wales and England's Paul Waring.

All three of those players punched their tickets to July's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in the latest of The Open Championship Qualifying Series which take place around the world.

"I called him over, but I noticed he wasn’t too keen to come and help me," laughed Fichardt.

"I have a new putter and a new putting grip, and I wasn't sure what a bad putt would do under those circumstances. I was just glad that I had chipped it close enough. Actually, I just needed him there so I could blow off a little of the pressure."

Fichardt who has been battling to rediscover the kind of form that has made him a stalwart on the Sunshine Tour and on the European Tour, which co-sanctioned this tournament, what delighted as the dust settle on his win

"Geez man, it's good to win again," he said. "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. And it worked out!"

In a tournament that was beset by heavy rains throughout, which caused it to be shortened to 54 holes, Fichardt responded by producing some almost flawless golf.

He made just two bogeys in his 54 holes, and in the end, that allowed him to separate himself from the field.

But, at 41, he also had to deal with the fact that many of his younger competitors were able to get the ball much further off the tees than he could.

"I think in the past, I've tried to hit the ball harder when I play this tournament," he said.

"And this time, because I've been hitting the ball so well over the last few months, I was concentrating on my short game and my putting."

It was two clutch chips that probably sealed the deal for him. He short-sided himself on 14, and hit a delightful chip close to save par, and then on 18, he saw his chip from the mouth of the green slide by the hole to settle two feet from the pin.

"I've got a new swing thought that I use on my chipping, and it certainly came in useful today," he said. "I was surprisingly calm over the one on 18, especially after that bogey on 17, but it certainly proved to me again that the short game and putting is where you score."

That scoring gave him his 15th Sunshine Tour title and his fifth European Tour win. And the comfort of planning an easier international travel schedule that victory and exemption on the European Tour brings.

One of his destinations will be Royal Birkdale foe The Open.

"I like that course a lot," he said. "I once rented a house near there and practiced on the course a few times. I last played The Open when Louis Oosthuizen won in 2010, so I'm looking forward to that."

For now though, he’s going to let winning again sink in.

Scores:

200 - Darren Fichardt 66 66 68

201 - Stuart Manley 67 67 67, Paul Waring 65 67 69

202 - James Morrison 68 68 66, Brandon Stone 70 65 67, Jacques Kruyswijk 63 70 69

203 - George Coetzee 66 72 65, Keenan Davidse 67 68 68, Paul Peterson 62 72 69, Aaron Rai 65 69 69

204 - Jaco Prinsloo 67 70 67, Louis de Jager 70 67 67, Sebastian Soderberg 66 70 68, Romain Langasque 65 71 68, Dean Burmester 66 67 71

205 - Ashun Wu 71 68 66, Francesco Laporta 66 71 68, Lee Slattery 69 68 68, Trevor Fisher Jnr 68 69 68, Laurie Canter 68 68 69, Dylan Frittelli 67 68 70, Pep Angles 66 68 71

206 - Haotong Li 73 66 67, Magnus A Carlsson 69 70 67, Christofer Blomstrand 71 68 67, Jeff Winther 70 68 68, Justin Hicks 70 68 68, Jbe' Kruger 65 72 69, Max Orrin 66 71 69, Paul Dunne 69 68 69, Jaco Ahlers 69 67 70, Pontus Widegren 68 68 70, Jens Fahrbring 68 68 70, Mark Foster 69 67 70, David Drysdale 64 71 71, Anton Karlsson 66 68 72, Haydn Porteous 67 67 72

207 - Sam Walker 69 70 68, Reinier Saxton 69 70 68, Garth Mulroy 70 69 68, Thomas Aiken 71 67 69, Oliver Bekker 68 70 69, Nino Bertasio 65 73 69, Graeme Storm 70 68 69, Anthony Wall 70 68 69, Thomas Linard 69 68 70, Adilson Da Silva 65 72 70, Tjaart van der Walt 69 68 70, Jake Roos 67 69 71

208 - Andre de Decker 69 70 69, Ashley Chesters 71 68 69, Ryan Fox 71 68 69, Chris Hanson 67 71 70, David Law 69 69 70, Toby Tree 68 70 70, Tom Lewis 70 68 70, Maximilian Kieffer 70 67 71, Marc Warren 68 69 71, Ockie Strydom 70 67 71

209 - Adrian Otaegui 71 68 70, Daniel Brooks 69 70 70, Thomas Detry 70 69 70, Duncan Stewart 72 67 70, Daniel Im 74 64 71, Jordan Smith 67 71 71, Le Roux Ferreira 71 66 72, Merrick Bremner 68 67 74

210 - Alexander Bjork 68 71 71, Richard Sterne 71 68 71, Chris Paisley 69 70 71, Anthony Michael 68 71 71, Justin Harding 72 67 71, Soomin Lee 71 68 71, Peter Karmis 70 69 71, Scott Vincent 70 69 71, Robert Dinwiddie 74 64 72, Wil Bateman 70 68 72

211 - Adrien Saddier 70 69 72, James Heath 71 68 72, Andrew Georgiou 68 71 72, Robert Rock 70 69 72, Sebastien Gros 69 68 74

212 - Jaco Van Zyl 71 68 73, Matthieu Pavon 70 67 75, Scott Jamieson 69 67 76

213 - Garrick Porteous 74 65 74, Oscar Stark 68 70 75

214 - Erik van Rooyen 73 66 75, Andrew McLardy 75 64 75

217 - Paul Maddy 68 69 80

220 - Gary King 70 69 81

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