Schwartzel wins Africa Open

3/19/2010 3:02:38 PM

Charl Schwartzel claimed his fourth European Tour title after his final round 67 was good enough to help him secure the Africa Open in East London.

The South African, the highest ranked player in the field at 66 and one of the favourites heading into the tournament, ended with a total of 272 - 20 under par overall - to edge out joint-overnight leader Thomas Aiken by a stroke.

Aiken, who shared the third round lead with Trevor Fisher Junior, failed to produce the promising form he showed earlier in the week, which included a pair of 67s and a 69, and had to settle for a 70.

Possibly his most decisive moment came on the par four fifth hole, where he found trouble and double bogeyed to slip back early in his round.

Another South African Jbe' Kruger finished in third place on 18 under after his day four score of 70, while Fisher's 72 - the worst amongst the leaders - dropped him into a share of fourth place with Chris Swanepoel and the two highest placed foreigners in the field, Englishman James Morrison and Rick Kulacz from Australia.

The quartet finished with a total of 275, while Branden Grace ended with an emphatic round of the day 66 to tie for eighth place on 16 under with five other players, including James Kingston and veteran Miles Tunnicliff.

Richard Sterne, another of the pre-competition favourites alongside the eventual winner and Kingston, tried his best to revive his chances with a determined bogey free 67, but it was only enough to get him to 15 under.

Northern Irishman Darren Clarke's three under round enabled him to finish three shots further back on an overall 12 under par for a 280 total.

But the day belonged to Schwartzel, despite having to endure a nerve-wracking wait as he watched the leading two groups finish their rounds.

The 25 year old, whose previous tournament wins came at the 2005 Alfred Dunhill Championship, the 2007 Open de Espana and the 2008 Madrid Masters, could have all-but sealed the title with a par on the 18th hole, having avoided dropping a shot over his previous 17 holes.

But he sliced his drive towards the ninth tee and took four shots to get on the green

He held his nerve for a bogey, but that still allowed an opening for the chasing Aiken. However the round three leader missed a 15 foot putt for birdie at the last that would have forced a play-off.

Schwartzel said: "Obviously I played so good all day, I pretty much didn't miss a shot and then down on 18 I just came out of it.

"It was not quite what I was looking for and I put a little pressure on myself there to make five at the end.

"I said to my caddie Wynand after I hit my second shot short right, 'we're still two ahead, so let's make five and let them make the birdie' and it worked out in my favour."