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Sunday, 07 December 2014
Danny Willett - the 2014 Nedbank Golf Challenge Champion  (Getty Images)
Danny Willett - the 2014 Nedbank Golf Challenge Champion (Getty Images)

Danny Willett started the 2015 season in style by claiming the second European Tour title of his career with victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

The 27 year old, whose only previous triumph came at the BMW International Open in 2012, carded a six under par 66 to win by four shots at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City.

Willett, 84th in the World Rankings, made his charge up the leaderboard on Saturday and continued that impressive form in a final round that included half a dozen birdies, leaving him 18 under for the tournament.

Willett, making his debut in this event, said: "South Africa is a place that's suited me in the past. I've played good golf down here, love the place, love the people, everything about it is great. It's been a truly fun test of golf."

In a top three consisting of Englishmen, Willett edged out playing partners Ross Fisher and Luke Donald.

Fisher, who won the Tshwane Open in South Africa earlier this year, recorded seven gains and three bogeys in a four under par 68 to finish two shots ahead of Donald.

Fisher, a five time European Tour winner, said: "I'm delighted. I felt like I played great all week. I finally started to hole a few putts today which was nice, but unfortunately for me and Luke, Danny was too good. I played some great golf."

Donald failed to mark his 37th birthday with his first victory since the BMW PGA Championship in 2012 following a frustrating one over par 73.

The former World Number One, leading by one overnight, struggled to maintain his challenge following a disappointing start that saw him suffer two of four bogeys early on.

He paid the price for over-hitting out of the bunker on the third and then almost drove his tee shot into spectators at the fifth, where Willett moved four shots clear.

Birdies at six and nine, the latter courtesy of an immaculate drive over the water, gave him some renewed hope but that was dashed when he bogeyed the tenth after requiring two shots to leave the sand.

To compound matters, Willett and Fisher both birdied the tenth, the latter’s third in a row.

But Fisher two putted the 11th to hand Willett another four shot advantage, which was cut to three when the former sank a putt on the 13th.

His lead remained at three when he produced a fine chip out of the bunker to follow his partners in making gains at the next, with a birdie putt on the penultimate pin confirming his convincing victory.  

Willett follows Nick Faldo and Lee Westwood in winning this event, and he said: "They are some good names to be next to.

"It's always nice walking up the ninth, obviously with the name engraved on the pathway up the left, you kind of realise how many great players have been here and walked over the same bridge as you have and had a great week.

"Hopefully we can come back here year after year and do it again."

Donald added: "There were a lot of positives. It's nice to put myself back in position. I could have played a bit better but I still would have had to shoot five under just to tie with Danny. He played really focused golf today and hats off, he's a deserved winner."

German Marcel Siem sat three shots behind third placed Donald on nine under after matching his opening round 68.

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat was two further back following six birdies, including two at the third and fourth courtesy of long putts, and a double bogey on the tenth.

A second successive 69 saw Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez finish on six under.

Alexander Levy found the ninth hole problematic after the Frenchman required 10 shots to complete the 596 yard par five, leaving him languishing on four over.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WILLETT, DannyENG18-18
2FISHER, RossENG18-14
3DONALD, LukeENG18-12
4SIEM, MarcelGER18-9
5APHIBARNRAT, KiradechTHA18-7
6JIMÉNEZ, Miguel AngelESP18-6

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