South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel fired a closing round of 67 to win the Africa Open at the East London Golf Club by a single shot from his countryman Thomas Aiken.

It was a fourth European Tour title for the 25-year-old who was the highest ranked player in the field going into the tournament.

Schwartzel trailed overnight leader Aiken by two shots heading into the final round, but the gap was quickly closed as Schwartzel made four birdies in his first seven holes. When Aiken faltered with a double bogey six at the fifth, Schwartzel took the lead.

The South African extended his advantage at the top with three further birdies on the back nine and he came to the final hole knowing a par would virtually secure the title. But Schwartzel took four shots to reach the closing green and did well to escape with a bogey. That gave Aiken a slim chance to match his 20-under-par finishing total. But Aiken was unable to convert a 15-foot birdie putt on the last green that would have forced a playoff.

“I put a little pressure on myself there to make five at the end,” said Schwartzel. “I said to my caddie Wynand after I hit my second shot short right, ‘we’re still two ahead, so let’s make five and let them make the birdie’ and it worked out in my favour.”

Another South African Jbe’ Kruger finished alone in third place and the best finishers from outside the home nation were Rick Kulacz of Australia and England’s James Morrison who were tied for fourth.

Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke ended on 12-under-par in a tie for 28th.

Africa Open
East London GC, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Jan 7-10, purse €1,000,000, par 73

1    Charl Schwartzel (RSA)    67    70    68    67    272    €158,500
2    Thomas Aiken (RSA)    67    67    69    70    273    €115,000
3    Jbe’ Kruger (RSA)    69    68    67    70    274    €69,200
T4    Trevor Fisher jnr (RSA)    66    66    71    72    275    €38,825
T4    Rick Kulacz (Aus)        72    69    67    67    275    €38,825
T4    James Morrison (Eng)    68    70    69    68    275    €38,825
T4    Chris Swanepoel (RSA)    71    68    68    68    275    €38,825
T8    Michiel Bothma (RSA)    69    69    70    68    276    €20,080
T8    Pelle Edberg (Swe)    69    68    70    69    276    €20,080
T8    Branden Grace (RSA)    70    70    70    66    276    €20,080
T8    James Kingston (RSA)    68    69    71    68    276    €20,080
T8    Miles Tunnicliff (Eng)    68    71    67    70    276    €20,080

Note: Player scores in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only