Charl Schwartzel made the perfect start to the 2016 Race to Dubai by winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek for a fourth time.
Charl Schwartzel finished clear of a trio of Frenchmen at Leopard Creek. Gregory Bourdy was runner-up with Benjamin Hebert and Sebastian Gros in third and fourth places respectively.
The South African began the final round with a three shot advantage over the pack, but he started nervously with a dropped shot at the third. At that stage Bourdy and Hebert were within two. A birdie at the sixth for Schwartzel was cancelled by another dropped shot at the 8th and, as the leaders reached the turn, the tournament was still wide open.
But Schwartzel closed the door on the run for home with birdies at the 11th, 13th and 14th holes. The field couldn’t respond and Schwartzel was champion again.
“It feels good, I’ve been down in quite a slump for a few years,” he said. “But we’ve put in so much hard work in the last 18 months and I guess there’s no better fit than to turn it around here. This place has treated me really well. I got my first win here and now my tenth so I think it’s pretty fitting. I wish we could play some Majors here!”
4 Talking points from the Alfred Dunhill Championship
1 – Charl Schwartzel won the Alfred Dunhill Championship for a fourth time. At just 31, he is the youngest South African to reach 10 victories on the European Tour. This win will see him comfortably back inside the world’s top-50 players. Since he won The Masters in 2011 his only European Tour victories have come in this event (2013, 2014 and 2016.) Seven of his 10 European Tour titles have been secured in his native South Africa.
2 – Vive la France! It was a great week for French players at Leopard Creek. Gregory Bourdy was runner-up, Benjamin Hebert second and Sebastian Gros third. Another Frienchman, Thomas Linard, ended the week in a tie for fifth. That makes four golfers from France in the top five of the early Race to Dubai points list.
3 – Two-time champion Pablo Martin Benavides bounced back well from a disappointing third round of 75. He closed with a 69 to end the week on six-under-par. Martin won this event in 2010 and 2011 but since then has endured a torrid time on the European Tour recording just two top-10 finishes. Perhaps this result will trigger a return to form for the Spaniard.
4 – There were some good performances from graduates of the Q school and the Challenge Tour. Road to Oman winner Ricardo Gouveia finished on five-under-par, tied with Brandon Stone who made it through qualifying school in November.
Alfred Dunhill Championship
Leopard Creek CC, Malelane, South Africa
Purse: €1,500,000, par 72
1 Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 66 67 70 70 273 €237,750
2 Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 70 72 67 68 277 €172,500
3 Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 68 70 68 72 278 €103,800
4 Sebastian Gros (Fra) 71 72 63 73 279 €73,650
T5 Matt Ford (Eng) 67 74 69 70 280 €53,100
T5 Thomas Linard (Fra) 72 71 67 70 280 €53,100
T5 Joost Luiten (Ned) 68 70 71 71 280 €53,100
T8 Branden Grace (RSA) 71 73 66 71 281 €32,900
T8 Eddie Pepperell (Eng) 74 65 74 68 281 €32,900
T8 Jaco Van Zyl (RSA) 71 72 74 64 281 €32,900
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage
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