Van Der Walt steps up to take first European Tour title

3/3/2013 2:24:00 PM
Dawie Van Der Walt   (Getty Images)
Dawie Van Der Walt (Getty Images)
Dawie Van Der Walt claimed the biggest victory of his career as the South African held off compatriots Darren Fichardt and Louis De Jager to win the Tshwane Open.

The 30 year old, whose only previous victories as a professional came on satellite tours in America, finished with a five under par 67 to finish with a 21 under par total; two ahead of recent Africa Open winner Fichardt.

“You can only imagine what it’s like to win such a big one,” said Van Der Walt.

“I’m just really happy that I played well and won, because you can play well and not win.

“You start doubting yourself and at 30 years old you start to wonder if you’re good enough and this shows me that I am. I would have liked to win before 30, but I’ll definitely take this. 

“Golf is a game where you don’t get a lot of chances to win, and to do it is fantastic.

“I don’t know what I’ll do yet. The purses are a lot bigger in The European Tour, so I’ll have to rethink some things. You can make your own schedule, which is important.

“I hit the ball really good and I never really had to chip, which is not my strength. If you hit a lot of greens and don’t three-putt then you’re going to do well.”

Van Der Walt and Fichardt were part of a four-way tie for the lead with compatriot Charl Coetzee and Chile’s Mark Tullo overnight.

It was Coetzee and Fichardt who were first to kick clear, both players birdieing the second and third.

Van Der Walt made it a three-way tie for the lead when he became only the fourth player this week to eagle the par five fourth; at 685 yards the longest hole in European Tour history.

Fichardt birdied the fifth to go back in front, but Van Der Walt stole a march when he picked up shots at the next two to lead by one at the turn.

Van Der Walt started for home with a bogey, but birdies at the 12th and 15th put him two clear as Tullo and Coetzee faded on the back nine.

Despite missing the fairway at the last, Van Der Walt managed three closing pars and that proved good enough as Fichardt – who did not deviate from par over the last 13 holes – struggled to make the required birdies to apply some pressure.

A South African one-two-three also represented a fifth victory in six events on home soil for the Rainbow Nation.

De Jager began the final round with a double bogey, but recovered to card a 69 and take solo third. 

The 25 year old plays out of The Els Club Copperleaf and showed the benefit of local knowledge, carding three rounds in the 60s during the week.

Former World Number One amateur Peter Uihlein finished fourth on 17 under par, one ahead of Swede Bjorn Åkesson, England’s Danny Willett and Coetzee.