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Golf: Maiden European Tour win for Van der Walt

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Dawie van der Walt won his first European Tour tournament Sunday by finishing two shots ahead of fellow South African Darren Fichardt in the Tshwane Open.

Van der Walt fired a five-under-par final round 67 for a total of 267 over the Ernie Els-designed Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate while Fichardt closed with a 69 on the 7,791-yard (7,124-metre) layout.

A two-metre, 110-kilogram giant, Cape Town-born Van der Walt was one shot ahead of four-time European Tour winner Fichardt at the turn and extended it with a birdie at the par-five 15th on a hot, overcast afternoon.

Both title challengers parred the last three holes and Van der Walt collected a 237,750-euro ($310,690) cheque and a three-year exemption from qualifying for European Tour events.

The winner of the inaugural Tshwane Open was a model of consistency over the four days of a tournament hit by two-hour delays on Friday and Saturday when seasonal thunderstorms rolled over the course south west of here.

He had only one bogey over his 72 holes -- at the par-four 10th during the closing round -- and a solid tee-to-green game set up an unexpected success in a 156-field that included three former Major title-holders.

"I hit the ball really well this week and probably missed only six or seven greens in regulation," said the slightly nervous champion after receiving his winner's cheque and trophy.

"My tee-to-green game was good, my putting solid, and to bogey only one hole throughout the tournament on such a long and challenging course was really awesome."

The often hot putter of Fichardt cooled during the final round and he never looked like overtaking Van der Walt during the closing holes while co-overnight leader Charl Coetzee of South Africa closed with a par 72.

Chilean Mark Tullo, the other member of the quartet topping the leaderboard after the third round, crumbled to a 77 and needed 42 strokes to cover the back nine.

dl/ak

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130303/golf-maiden-european-tour-win-van-der-walt-0