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Dawie Van Der Walt wins by 2 in South Africa
Centurion, South Africa (Sports Network) - Dawie Van Der Walt closed with a 5- under 67 on Sunday to win the inaugural Tshwane Open by two strokes.
Van Der Walt finished his first European Tour title at 21-under-par 267. He became the fifth South African to win this season in the six events held in that country.
"You can only imagine what it's like to win such a big one. I'm just really happy that I played well and won, because you can play well and not win," said Van Der Walt. "You start doubting yourself and at 30 years old you start to wonder if you're good enough and this shows me that I am. I would have liked to win before 30, but I'll definitely take this. Golf is a game where you don't get a lot of chances to win, and to do it is fantastic."
Darren Fichardt, who shared the third-round lead with Van Der Walt and two others, posted a 3-under 69 to end alone in second at minus-19.
Louis De Jager also shot 69 on Sunday to grab third place at 18-under-par 270. South Africans took the top three spots on the leaderboard.
American Peter Uihlein managed a 69 of his own to finish in fourth at minus-17 at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate.
Charl Coetzee and Mark Tullo were the other two third-round co-leaders. Coetzee tied for fifth after an even-par 72, while Tullo stumbled to a 5-over 77, which left him at 11-under 277 and tied for 27th.
The top of the leaderboard changed hands several times early in the round. Fichardt birdied two, three and five to jump to minus-19. Coetzee had matched the birdies at two and three, but couldn't keep pace.
Van Der Walt eagled the fourth to get to minus-18. After a par on the fifth, he converted back-to-back birdies at six and seven to grab the lead at minus-20.
The 30-year-old stumbled to a bogey at the 10th to fall back into a share of the lead with Fichardt.
Van Der Walt bounced back with a birdie at the 12th to regain the lead. After a pair of pars, he dropped in another birdie try at No. 15 to push his lead to two. He parred the last three holes to hang on for the victory.
"I hit the ball really good and I never really had to chip, which is not my strength," Van Der Walt stated. "If you hit a lot of greens and don't 3-putt then you're going to do well."
The win was Van Der Walt's first on a major tour. He had won on some satellite tours though.
"I don't know what I'll do yet. The purses are a lot bigger in the European Tour, so I'll have to rethink some things. You can make your own schedule, which is important," Van Der Walt said about possibly joining the European Tour or staying on the Sunshine Tour, which co-sanctioned this event.
After his fast start, Fichardt closed with 13 consecutive pars to end alone in second.
Coetzee played the final 15 holes in 2-over par. That included a penalty stroke for getting a second bad time in the round.
NOTES: Van Der Walt earned 237,750 euros for the win ... Two of the three former major champions that were in the field made the cut, but never challenged as Darren Clarke closed with a 69 to share 63rd place at minus-5 and Jose Maria Olazabal went 5-over par on the weekend to tie for last place at 3-over-par 291 ... The tour is in Florida next week for the WGC - Cadillac Championship, then heads to India the following week for the Avantha Masters, where Jbe' Kruger won last year.
03/03 11:08:36 ET
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