/ Golf

Henrik Stenson ends drought with South African Open win

Updated: Sunday, 18 Nov 2012 15:30 | Comments

Former Ryder Cup player Stenson beat South Africa's George Coetzee by three shots With a closing 71 the former world number four posted a 17-under-par total for his seventh Tour title
Former Ryder Cup player Stenson beat South Africa's George Coetzee by three shots With a closing 71 the former world number four posted a 17-under-par total for his seventh Tour title

Swede Henrik Stenson lifted the South African Open trophy, but it was great day too for England's Tommy Fleetwood at Serengeti.

Former world number four Stenson ended three and a half years without a victory when he denied George Coetzee his national championship by three strokes with a closing 71.

Fleetwood's share of sixth place, meanwhile, lifted him from 124th on the European Tour money list into the top 119 who earn cards for next year.

The player to miss out because of him was South African Tjaart Van der Walt. He chose to play in the Hong Kong Open because of the bigger prize money on offer, but did not pick up a penny after missing the cut.

Stenson made hard work of clinching his seventh title on the circuit after standing four clear of the field five holes into the final round.

"The turning point was when I didn't plug in the bunker on 15." - Stenson

When he followed a bogey on the next with a double bogey at the short ninth - he pulled his tee shot into the water - he was back into a tie with Coetzee.

But the Pretoria golfer, yet to win a European Tour after 18 top-10 finishes now, dropped a shot at the 183-yard 15th and Stenson, saving par from sand there, was the one to birdie the next two.

The ex-Ryder Cup star, who finished 17 under par after flying to the event from America, said: "It was great that I came down here.

"I made it a little difficult for myself, but stayed patient. The turning point was when I didn't plug in the bunker on 15 - the two birdies after that sealed the deal.

"The course was playing a lot harder today. The pins were tucked away and I'm very happy with my performance."

Germany's Martin Kaymer shared third place with Thomas Aiken, another of the home contingent, while fifth place went to last year's Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.

For 21-year-old Fleetwood, winner of last season's Challenge Tour, a 69 for nine under meant easily the best finish of the year, while defending champion Hennie Otto will not forget the day in a hurry either.

He broke the course record with a 10-under 62 to leap into a tie for sixth.

Fleetwood had to finish in the top 27 once the results from Hong Kong were in, but instead moved up from 13th place overnight.

"It feels better than a win pretty much," said the 2010 English amateur champion from Southport.

"It was probably the most stressful four days of my life I think, but I played great today - I think I hit 17 greens, which under any circumstances is pretty good.

"I'm absolutely made up, honestly. It's unbelievable.

"It was the difference between going back to the Challenge Tour or staying on the best tour in the world. It's a hard, grafting year on the Challenge Tour - as good as it is, it's very tough. The European Tour is a much better lifestyle I must say and it's just great to have a job next year."

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