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

Spaniard Pablo Martin created more European Tour history by winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.

Two years after becoming the first amateur to win on The European Tour, the 23 year old is now the only one to capture titles both as an amateur and a professional.

Martin, ranked 488th in the world at the start of the tournament, was in the depths of despair about his game after missing the first seven cuts of this year. He now ends 2009 on a real high after beating home hope and former winner Charl Schwartzel by a single stroke in a tense finish.

It was only on the final day of last season that Martin made sure of keeping his European Tour card, but he is now exempt until the end of 2012 - and €158,500 richer.

The Malaga golfer had had only one top ten finish since his triumph at the Estoril Open de Portugal, but with a closing three under par 69 he held off the charging Schwartzel to win with a 17 under total.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," he said. "I am so happy and there was so much emotion today."

Martin was able to celebrate his victory with his sister. She had accompanied on a trip that was part holiday to see the wildlife on the Kruger National Park adjoining Leopard Creek.

“She can’t go home now, because she was with me at both tournaments I have won,” he said. “Her kids will have to wait a bit before they get her back.”

While he had the ecstasy, there was agony for several others after the 541 yard 18th - one of the toughest finishing holes in golf - claimed yet more victims.

Welshman Sion Bebb, only one behind after an eagle on the 13th, crashed to a sextuple bogey 11 after tangling with trees and then dumping two balls in the water surrounding the green.

That dropped him from fifth to 17th and alongside Ernie Els, who after starting the day tied for second shot a 77.

The former Open Championship winner's round ended in a double bogey seven on the hole where he took eight when two in front two years ago, while Northern Ireland's Gareth Maybin also took seven when lying third and Frenchman Michael Lorenzo-Vera had an eight to fall from fourth to eighth.

Martin was two ahead of Schwartzel on the tee and, despite a huge drive, chose to lay up short of the lake.

Schwartzel, who had had a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th before bogeying the 17th, had to do the same after almost hooking out of bounds, but then piled the pressure on by pitching close.

Martin's third short was close to going over the green, but hung on and he two-putted for victory.

It completed a remarkable recovery from a nightmare collapse in which he missed 20 out of 22 cuts. He finished last season 118th on The Race to Dubai and only the leading 120 kept their cards.

Els is not playing this week's South African Open and so his run of at least one victory every year since 1990 has come to an end. His last victory was in America in March last year.

There have been two more amateur winners since Martin's breakthrough, but both came this year and neither New Zealander Danny Lee nor Irishman Shane Lowry have followed it up with a win in the paid ranks yet.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MARTIN BENAVIDES, PabloESP18-17
2SCHWARTZEL, CharlRSA18-16
3HANSEN, AndersDEN18-14
T4MAYBIN, GarethNIR18-12
T4STERNE, RichardRSA18-12
T4ROCK, RobertENG18-12
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