Friday, 19 March 2010
Alfred Dunhill Championship - Round Four  (Getty Images)
Alfred Dunhill Championship - Round Four (Getty Images)

Richard Sterne clinched the Alfred Dunhill Championship by a single shot after a thrilling final round at Leopard Creek Golf Club.

The 27 year old South African carded a three under par 69 for a 17 under overall total of 271, making the most of lapses from overnight leader Thomas Aiken and American Len Mattiace, who ended day four with scores of 75 and 77 respectively.

Englishman Robert Rock finished tied for second with Johan Edfors – the Swede carding a 66 for the best final round score alongside Alan McLean and 2007 South African Airways Open winner James Kingston.

The win propels Sterne into the top five in The Race to Dubai and makes him the first home winner at Leopard Creek since Ernie Els three years ago.

Aiken, who powered his way to a course record 61 in the third round and held a one stroke lead heading into the final day, finished in fourth place with Spain's Rafael Cabrera Bello on 15 under par, while Scotsman McLean and another home favourite Keith Horne ended a further stroke back.

But the day belonged to Sterne, who’s last win on The European Tour came at the Joburg Open at the start of 2008.

The World Number 113, who secured his fourth European title in the process, would have been surprised by the manner at which the leading overnight pair fell away.

Aiken started out well enough with two birdies in his opening four holes and was four shots ahead at one point.

But bogeys on the par four ninth, tenth and 18th holes, added to a double bogey on the 11th, saw him end his round on three over par, while Mattiace finished on five over par with two bogeys and a pair of triple bogeys.

Speaking afterward, Sterne admitted he was little surprised by the way the leaders had fallen.

“I actually only saw the leaderboard on the 16th and thought the leaders will probably be on 17 or 18 under,” he said.

“So I got a bit of a surprise when I was leading by one. I made a good two putt there and I knew that 17 under was probably going to be good enough. But I’m quite happy.

“The back nine I gave away two very weak bogeys on the tenth and 12th, but I came back strong and that’s what counts on those last six holes on a Sunday.”

The Pretoria born golfer admitted that he was very nervous coming into the final hole where he shot a triple bogey and double bogey in the last two rounds.

“I was thinking just make a par, that’s all I’ve got to do,” he continued. “Obviously I wasn’t feeling very comfortable on that hole and I played it exactly how I wanted to play it. I would like to have hit the putt a little closer, but fortunately I knocked it in."

The win also helped him secure the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit title.

He added: "I don't think anyone can catch me now with just one tournament left. I was quite worried about that, but I knew if I came in at least second, I would have had a good chance."

After finishing 17th and 14th in the tournament over the last two years, Englishman Rock said he was pleased with most parts of his game, but had to work on a few aspects heading into the South African Open Championship at Pearl Valley Golf Estate next week.

“It was a good finish really,” he said.

“I hit my iron shots really close. The start of the round didn’t really go to plan as I didn’t make any putts, I had 31 today. But overall I was really happy with the week.

"Obviously I’ve got to do some practising on the putting, but it’s been a good performance, so I’ll now be looking forward to Cape Town next week,” added the 31 year old, who had four top ten finishes last season.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1STERNE, RichardRSA18-17
T2EDFORS, JohanSWE18-16
T2ROCK, RobertENG18-16
T4AIKEN, ThomasRSA18-15
T6HORNE, KeithRSA18-14
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