/ Golf

Mulroy enjoys Leopard Creek win

Updated: Sunday, 20 Nov 2011 15:45

Garth Mulroy - The Durban native enjoyed a two-shot victory at Leopard Creek
Garth Mulroy - The Durban native enjoyed a two-shot victory at Leopard Creek

Garth Mulroy avoided a repeat of the nightmare finish by Ernie Els four years ago to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in South Africa.

Like Els, the 33-year-old South African came to the par-five last with a two-stroke lead, but unlike Els, who put two balls in the water for a triple-bogey eight, he made no mistake.

Mulroy captured his first European Tour title when a closing par gave him a two-shot victory over Scotland's George Murray with a 19 under par total.

Two in front overnight, the Durban golfer stood on the 14th tee three clear, but as he took bogey there Murray converted a 20-foot eagle chance at the long 15th.

Suddenly they were on level terms, but while Murray parred the final three Mulroy two-putted the 15th after finding the green in two and then holed an outrageous putt of around 60 feet for another birdie at the next.

"I knew halfway down that slope it had a chance," he said.

"I just tried to play smart golf and hit it in the right spots."

The €158,500 first prize opens the European Tour door to him just a month after he earned a return to the PGA Tour in the United States via their second-tier Nationwide circuit.

Murray, meanwhile, achieved his best-ever Tour finish seven weeks after he came third in the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, where he outscored world number one playing partner Luke Donald in the final round.

This time a five-under-par 67, one better than Mulroy, took him four clear of four players in third place - his compatriot Peter Whiteford, South Africans George Coetzee and Jaco van Zyl and also Chilean Felipe Aguilar.

Murray was down in 183rd spot on the Tour money list entering October and facing the danger of a sixth trip to the qualifying school.

Now the 28-year-old from Anstruther, Scottish amateur champion in 2004, is inside the top 80 with winnings of over €380,000 this season.