Sunday, 16 December 2007

James Kingston completed an emotional victory at the South African Airways Open, holding off the challenge of England’s Oliver Wilson to lift his National Open Championship.

Home favourite Kingston was eventually crowned champion after a rain-drenched final round at the Pearl Valley Golf Estates.

Play was suspended for nearly four hours earlier in the day after persistent rain overnight made the course unplayable.

When the players did get back Kingston managed to maintain his composure, shooting a final round 71 for an overall score of four under par 278 total, one ahead of Wilson.

Kingston, a professional for 20 years, had had numerous near misses on The European Tour, but he was not to be denied as he savoured the greatest moment in his career.

“That was the toughest day I have ever had,” said Kingston. “I have had chances before and not made the most of those chances, but today, for once, I clinched it.

“I couldn’t have chosen a better tournament to win in the world than this one. This is the South African Open, my National Open.

“I have waited 20 years for this and that is a long time. I am so happy to have won such a prestigious title and join such an elite club.”

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke adapted well in weather not dissimilar to Belfast, finishing two shots back on one under par after an excellent final-round 68 – one of the rounds of the day.

Three other players were tied with Clarke including South Africa's Garth Mulroy and Louis Oosthuizen as well as Welshman Kyron Sullivan.

Greg Norman capped an impressive week by finishing in tied seventh, level par for the championship, while defending champion Ernie Els also finished strongly with a final round 69, enough for joint 16th place.

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