MALELANE, South Africa (Reuters) - Holder Charl Schwartzel made it back-to-back Alfred Dunhill Championship wins when he romped to a four-stroke victory at Leopard Creek on Sunday.
The former U.S. Masters champion produced a final round 68 for a 17-under-par total of 271 to finish comfortably ahead of second-placed Briton Richard Finch (70) at the private club adjoining the Kruger Park in South Africa’s eastern Mpumalanga province.
Last year Schwartzel triumphed by 12 strokes in the European Tour event.
On Sunday he began with a two-shot lead over playing partner Finch only to see it wiped out in the space of three holes.
The Englishman, playing on a sponsor’s invite after losing his tour card at the end of the 2013 season, birdied the first and third.
“I was a little worried but I know this golf course and I knew it was far from over,” said Schwartzel at the post-tournament presentation.
Finch made his first mistake of the day on the 11th, a wild drive leading to a penalty drop and a bogey five.
Schwartzel’s birdie on the 13th put him three clear and the contest was effectively over when Finch ran up a double-bogey six at the next hole, his approach from a fairway bunker hitting rocks on the edge of a water hazard and bouncing into bushes.
The winner dropped only three shots in his four rounds - all on the opening day on Thursday.
“When you go through some 60 holes without dropping a shot you should win the tournament,” Schwartzel joked.
Finch’s runners-up slot will go a long way to helping him regain his tour card but he must still rely on invitations to compete in events in the immediate future.
British pair Simon Dyson and Ross Fisher and Romain Wattel of France were tied for third on 278.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; editing by Tony Jimenez; firstname.lastname@example.org +27828257807 Messaging email@example.com nL4N0JG099