Darren Fichardt (Getty Images)
Darren Fichardt appeared to be on course for a fourth European Tour title as he raced clear during the final round of the Africa Open at East London Golf Club.
The South African began the day tied at the top of the leaderboard with compatriot Jaco Van Zyl, and there was initially no separating the pair until Fichardt pulled clear around the turn.
Both players completed regulation pars at the first, and it was Van Zyl, chasing his first European Tour victory after 12 top-ten finishes, who stole an advantage at the short second when he holed his birdie putt from off the green.
His lead was short lived, however, as Fichardt picked up a shot at the par five third to leave the pair level once more.
The pair were looking to make it a fourth straight victory for the home nation in this event after Major Champions Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen won the last three stagings, and it was Fichardt who went ahead with a 20 foot birdie effort on the seventh.
He turned two clear after Van Zyl bogeyed the testing ninth, and went three ahead as his playing partner duffed his chip at the 12th and failed to get up and down.
Fichardt, whose last European Tour title came in St Omer last season, looked to have the race sewn up when he holed a 20 footer for birdie at the 13th, but a three-putt at the next left him 18 under and three clear.
Frenchman Grégory Bourdy was alongside two more South Africans – Garth Mulroy and Desvonde Botes – in a share of third, although the trio were five off the pace on 13 under with holes rapidly running out.