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Bjorn rallies for Nedbank Golf Challenge win
Sun City, South Africa (SportsNetwork.com) - Thomas Bjorn fired a 7-under-par 65 on Sunday to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge by two strokes over Sergio Garcia and Jamie Donaldson.
Beginning the final round three shots off Donaldson's pace, Bjorn mixed a pair of eagles, four birdies and an inconsequential bogey at the last to finish at 20-under-par 268 and secure his 15th European Tour title.
"This is right up there with the best days of my career," said Bjorn.
Garcia proved a tough test for Bjorn, as he too shot 65 to end in a tie for second place at 18-under 270. The Spaniard finished alongside Donaldson, who couldn't keep pace in the final round, carding a 70 at Gary Player Country Club.
Henrik Stenson, the reigning FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai champion, shot 67 to finish fourth at 16-under, Brendon de Jonge (66) took fifth at 15-under and Charl Schwartzel (66) grabbed sixth at minus-13.
U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (67) shared seventh with American Ryan Moore (73) at 12-under.
Donaldson opened with a pair of birdies and six pars over his first eight holes, but his lead evaporated by the turn, as the Englishman found water at the ninth and bogeyed, giving way to a hard-charging Garcia and then Bjorn.
Irons clicking, Garcia opened with back-to-back tap-in birdies from the first and then, after three straight pars, closed his opening nine with four consecutive birdies to join Donaldson at the top.
Bjorn, however, had yet to make his move.
The 42-year-old Dane had three birdies during a flawless outward nine, but he truly caught fire around the turn, opening with an eagle-3 at the 10th, which propelled him into the lead.
Donaldson was steady during his inward stretch, notching eight pars and a birdie at the 17th, but it wasn't enough to keep pace with his challengers.
Garcia opened his back nine with four pars before tallying back-to-back birdies from the 14th to briefly supplant Bjorn. The lead was fleeting, however, as Bjorn eagled the par-5 14th, then birdied the 15th to move two strokes clear of Garcia.
The margin increased to three strokes when Garcia bogeyed the 16th and Bjorn managed a pair of pars from the 16th to all but secure the win, rendering his bogey at the last of little consequence.
"You never forget your first victory, and then my win against Tiger in Dubai when I went toe-to-toe with him for four days and came out top was special, but winning here in the way that I did against a field of this quality is up there.
"I knew I had to shoot something low and then see what Jamie was doing. It turned out that it was Sergio and every time I saw a leaderboard he was making birdies. I am very proud of the way I played today - it's a very special day in my career," said Bjorn.
NOTES: Bjorn was playing in his 424th event on the European Tour ... This was his second European Tour win in the calendar year of 2013, with the other coming at the Omega European Masters in September ... Bjorn became the first Dane to win this event ... Bjorn has secured four European Tour titles since turning 40 years old in February of 2011 ... Last year's champion Martin Kaymer tied for 16th place at 2-under-par 286.
12/08 11:58:22 ET