Weekend Tour Wrap-Up 30th Nov 2015
Weekend tour wrap up from Sports Writer Derek Clements
European Tour - Alfred Dunhill Championship
Charl Schwartzel (who else?) overcame a front-nine stumble to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek for the fourth time. It is the 31-year-old former Masters champion's 10th victory on the European Tour. He had previously won this tournament in 2005, 2013 and 2014.
But this time he did it the hard way. Five ahead after two rounds, and beginning the final day with a three-stroke advantage, Schwartzel reached the turn in a one-over-par 36, but he managed to regroup and came home in 34 to finally beat Gregory Bourdy, of France, by four.
His winning total was 15 under par, and he will be thankful that none of his closest challengers could put together a good run. Another Frenchman, Benjamin Hebert, was third and Challenge Tour graduate Sebastien Gros, also from France, finished fourth in his maiden European Tour start, banking 73,000 euros in the process. And to complete a good day for France, Thomas Linard tied for fifth place with Matt Ford and Joost Luiten. Linard is also fresh from the Challenge Tour.
But the week was all about Schwartzel. Incredibly, he has finished in the top two in eight of his 11 appearances in Malelane with a scarcely believable aggregate score of 122 under par. He is the first South African to win the same event on four occasions.
Schwartzel had played a handful of dreadful shots on Saturday, keeping his lead only because of some remarkable recovery play, and he continued to look uncomfortable early in the final round. It started with a dropped shot on the third that moved him back to 12 under and reduced his lead to two shots over Bourdy and Hebert.
Hebert was delighted. “There are three French men in the top four," he said. "It's a brilliant week for French golf and I'm very happy for the Challenge Tour graduates from France because there are two in the top ten, that's great.”
Hebert has won six times on the Challenge Tour but is still looking for his first success with the big boys. At one stage he got within a shot of Schwartzel but three birdies on the back nine saw the South African pull away while a bogey on the last denied Hebert a share of second.
"I'm a bit disappointed because today was not a good day for me, I didn't play very well," Hebert said. "My putting didn't work very well for the week. It's a good start to the season, now we have a little time (off) so we're going to enjoy it for sure.
"Third is alright but I was well placed on 18 and I had a dirty ball so the wedge shot was not very easy and I had bogey. It would be better to finish tied second with Grégory.”
Meanwhile in Australia, Matt Jones did his very best to throw away the Australian Open before finally holing a putt on the 72nd green to win the title by a single shot. Jones began the day leading Jordan Spieth by three shots, but that had disappeared when he walked off the second green, having started bogey, double-bogey. He bounced back, however, with birdies at the fourth and sixth holes but disaster struck again at the ninth when he put his second shot into a pond and walked off the green with a triple-bogey seven.
He looked to be in trouble again at the 12th, when he hit his drive into the trees, failed to escape with his second and then put his third into a greenside bunker at the par four. Staring another dropped shot in the face, Jones promptly holed the bunker shot. The rollercoaster round continued with birdies on the 14th and 16th, which took him to eight under. By this time, Adam Scott was in the clubhouse on seven under after a 66. Spieth, who was playing with Jones, was also two behind the leader. Jones got up and down for par at the 17th.
The final hole at the Australian Golf Club is a par five. Spieth found the green in two, while Jones had to lay up and could get no closer than 25 feet. He left his first effort three feet from the hole, meaning Spieth had a 15-foot putt to draw level with the Australia, but he missed and Jones was left to hole out for for a winning par.
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