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Sunday, 16 December 2012
Charl Schwartzel  (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)

Charl Schwartzel won by a huge margin for the second week running as the South African coasted to a comprehensive 12 shot victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

A winner by 11 shots in Thailand last Sunday, the talk at the start of the day was not whether the 28 year old would win an eighth European Tour title, but if he could better Tiger Woods’ 15-shot winning margin at the 2000 US Open Championship in doing so. That remains the largest in European Tour history.

A third straight 64 would have seen last year’s Masters Tournament champion equal Ernie Els’ record 29 under par total, but as it was Schwartzel settled for a three under par 69 and 24 under total on a final day disrupted by thunderstorms.

It completed a fantastic finish to 2012 for Schwartzel, who birdied the last to register the third biggest winning margin in European Tour history.

He finished the Thailand Golf Championship 25 under, and for the past five weeks - they started with finishes of fifth, third and second - he is a staggering 84 under.

France's Grégory Bourdy, his closest challenger for virtually the entire weekend, took a double-bogey seven on the final hole and that elevated Swede Kristoffer Broberg, four times a winner on the Challenge Tour last season, into second place.

“It’s amazing to get off to such a good start in The Race to Dubai in my first season as a European Tour Member and it sets me up pretty good for the new season," he said.

Bourdy shared third with Scotland's Scott Jamieson, who last Sunday captured The Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa in Durban, defending champion Garth Mulroy and England's Andy Sullivan a month after he came through The European Tour Qualifying School.

Schwartzel also continued a remarkable record at the course on the border of the Kruger National Park. He won his first European Tour title there in 2004 and has had four runner-up finishes.

"It's always been a special place for me," he said. "This is where I can almost say my career started and it's always stayed close to my heart.

"It's nice to have continued my form from last week. I was saying a month and a half ago it's been a pretty disappointing year.

"Slowly and surely I started to swing the club a lot better, back to how I did when I won The Masters, and I actually got excited to play again.

"It started at the SA Open and from there got better and better. It's been a pretty good year now!"

Schwartzel's lead was down to seven when he three-putted the eighth, but he spun his approach to three feet on the next and after the weather hold-up he collected more birdies on the 12th, 13th and par five last.

Fellow countryman George Coetzee's best-of-the-day 65 lifted him into joint tenth place and came after results elsewhere had guaranteed he stayed in the Official World Golf Ranking's top 50 and earned himself a Masters Tournament debut next April.

Also qualifying by the same route for a first trip to Augusta National are Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Belgian Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts, South African Branden Grace and Dane Thorbjørn Olesen.

Geoff Ogilvy would have denied Olesen if he had had one less shot at the Australian PGA Championship, where he finished in a tie for fourth place.

Others to book their Masters places through the end-of-year top 50 are Scot Paul Lawrie, Italians Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero, Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, Denmark's Thomas Björn, American Bill Haas, Australian Jason Day and Japanese player Hiroyuki Fujita.

South African Keith Horne could not manage a third successive hole-in-one on the 12th - the second won him a car - but Swede Magnus A Carlsson did ace the same hole on the final day.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1SCHWARTZEL, CharlRSA18-24
2BROBERG, KristofferSWE18-12
T3JAMIESON, ScottSCO18-11
T3MULROY, GarthRSA18-11
T3SULLIVAN, AndyENG18-11
T3BOURDY, GrégoryFRA18-11
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