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Friday, 19 March 2010
Joburg Open - Round Four  (Getty Images)
Joburg Open - Round Four (Getty Images)

Charl Schwartzel cruised to his second straight European Tour title in his home city with a six shot win at the Joburg Open, further extending his early lead in The Race to Dubai.

The Africa Open winner coasted around the East Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington in a five under par 66, following rounds of 63, 68 and 64 for a 23 under par total.

That was far too good for the chasing pack, with Schwartzel’s fellow South African Keith Horne sharing second with Darren Clarke on 17 under following a best of the day final round 64.

Clarke let slip a chance to apply real pressure midway through the front nine, but chipped in for eagle on the last.

Schwartzel’s notable double, completed with a polished 66, takes Schwartzel to his best ever position in the World Rankings - possibly as high as 35th depending on what happens on the US PGA Tour this week.

His fifth European Tour win should also lead to him making a Masters Tournament debut at Augusta in April, with the top 50 the week before the first Major of the season all qualifying.

He has the talent to go much higher, though. He was 23 under par here and is 52 under for his last 11 competitive rounds.

The margin of victory equalled the biggest of last season and Schwartzel said: "It's been a fantastic two weeks for me. I played good last week and it definitely carried over.

"I played pretty much flawless golf and I don't know what it comes down to - maybe a good positive frame of mind when you hit a bad shot.

"I'm leading the Order of Merit, but it's still early days and I think this will get me into The Masters. I'm very excited about that."

He will now try to become the first player since Seve Ballesteros in 1986 to win three consecutive European Tour events, but the competition in Abu Dhabi will be a lot stiffer.

The field includes eight of the world's top 14 - last season's Race to Dubai winner Lee Westwood, defending champion Paul Casey, last week's US PGA Tour winner Geoff Ogilvy, Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer.

Four behind at the start of a round brought forward because of the threat of further storms, Clarke could easily have closed the gap to one on the long sixth, but missed from six feet after Schwartzel had made a 25 footer.

The Ryder Cup star then three-putted the next and there looked only one winner after that, but the closing eagle earned 41 year old Clarke almost €120,000 - and an equivalent number of cup points, of course.

Schwartzel picked up €206,050 and so Westwood will begin his defence of The Race to Dubai title already more than €400,000 behind.

England's Danny Willett and South African James Kamte tied for fourth.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1SCHWARTZEL, CharlRSA18-23
T2HORNE, KeithRSA18-17
T2CLARKE, DarrenNIR18-17
T4KAMTE, JamesRSA18-14
T4WILLETT, DannyENG18-14
T6WHITEFORD, PeterSCO18-12
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