Shaky Fichardt holds on
Last updated: 17th February 2013
Darren Fichardt claimed a two-shot victory at Africa Open despite a late wobble.
The 37-year-old fired a one under 71 to continue South Africa's proud tradition in this event with a winning score of 16-under-par 272.
Although things got scrappy towards the end, Fichardt was in control for much of the day.
Chasing his first win of the season and 14th Sunshine Tour title, Fichardt birdied the first and third while eventual runner-up Jaco Van Zyl kept pace with successive birdies on the first and second.
The pair stayed together until Van Zyl fell behind when Fichardt sunk a 35-footer for birdie at the par-four seventh to move one clear.
Van Zyl dropped two back when he three-putted the ninth for bogey and the gap opened to three when he missed his par-putt at the 12th.
Fichardt streaked four shots clear after holing a 25-footer for birdie at the par-four 13th, but Van Zyl caught a glimmer of hope coming down the stretch when Fichardt missed a tricky putt for par at the par-four 14th.
It almost looked like Van Zyl wasted his opportunity to close the gap when he pushed his approach at the 16th right, but Fichardt also made a mess of the par-four.
Van Zyl made short work of his birdie putt and suddenly the gap was reduced to just one shot.
Both players bogeyed the 17th and Fichardt held a mere one shot cushion playing the last.
"That last hole was pretty tough because it plays in the teeth of the wind," said Fichardt. "I pushed my tee shot a little right but I had a good angle into the green. I stood there knowing that Jaco had made bogey and I had a couple of chances, but that last putt for birdie was one of the most nervy putts I've ever had to hole.
"It's fantastic to win a European Tour event here at home," he added. "I've won three times in Europe but I've always wanted to add a Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned event to my tally.
"To have my name on the trophy with Charl [Schwartzel], Retief [Goosen] and Louis [Oosthuizen] makes winning here in Buffalo City just so much more special."
Van Zyl had a chance to finish on second on his own, but a bogey at the last saw the Dainfern pro drop back into the pack.
Gregory Bourdy, who joined the title fight with a late charge when he reeled in three successive birdies from the 14th, dropped a shot at 17 and parred the last for a 70 to join Van Zyl on 14 under.
Birdies at 14, 16 and 18 for a 67 lifted South Africa's Garth Mulroy to finish alone in fourth on 13 under, while South Africans Desvonde Botes (70) and Tjaart van der Walt (71) shared fifth with Englishman Andy Sullivan (68) and Mark Tullo of Chili.
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