Schwartzel completes Leopard Creek hat-trick

12/1/2013 2:20:00 PM
Charl Schwartzel  (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel continued his remarkable sequence of results at Leopard Creek Country Club with a four shot victory over a spirited Richard Finch in the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

A winner by 12 shots last year, the 29 year old has also been a runner-up four times in the event where he collected his first European Tour title in 2005.

After a double bogey on the tenth hole of his first round, the World Number 21 went 62 holes without dropping a shot and a closing 67 saw him finish 17 under par for the week.

“I had that hiccup in the first round through 17 and the first hole, and after that pretty much flawless with no bogeys from there on in,” he said. “Most of the time if you play 60 holes or whatever it may be without bogey then hopefully you’ll win.

“It’s always nice to get a win and get some confidence up. It’s been one of those years where I have played well and just didn’t get the wins.

“Whenever you win and you’re playing well is great, whichever time of the year it happens.

“I’ve got two tournaments left and last week I played just as well as this week. It shows that I’m playing nicely and I’d like to see if I can continue.”

The former Masters Tournament winner started the day two clear of Finch, who lost his European Tour card after a disappointing 2013 campaign and failed to regain at Qualifying School a fortnight ago.

The Englishman was soon level, however, with birdies at the first and third, only for Schwartzel to respond with a beautiful tee shot to a couple of feet at the fifth.

Both players birdied the sixth and eighth to leave the remainder of the field trailing, but Finch’s first mistake of the day at the 11th proved costly.

A wayward drive led to a penalty drop and, although he salvaged bogey on that occasion, a double bogey at the 14th ended his challenge after Schwartzel had birdied the 13th from eight feet.

“He got off to a fantastic start and mine was a little shaky,” Schwartzel said of his playing partner. “I know with this golf course out of experience that it’s a long way from over and you just have to keep hitting good shots.”

Finch’s runner-up cheque of €172,500 is likely to go a long way towards getting his card back for 2015, while Simon Dyson shot a final round of 67 to finish joint third on ten under, alongside compatriot Ross Fisher and France's Romain Wattel.