Dawie van der Walt of South Africa won the rain-shortened Nelson Mandela Championship by two strokes from Matthew Baldwin and Jorge Campillo at Mount Edgecombe Country Club in Durban.
It was an emotional victory for the 30-year-old, completed the day before Nelson Mandela’s funeral.
“Winning The Nelson Mandela at this time, when it’s sad for everyone, everyone is mourning and tomorrow’s the big day, it means a lot and it’s something I can keep close to my heart for ever,” he said.
Van der Walt went into the third and final round three shots behind Daniel Brooks of England. But when Brooks dropped six shots in the first seven holes, van der Walt was let back in.
After three early birdies, the South African joined another Englishman Matthew Baldwin at the top of the leaderboard. Van der Walt stumbled slightly around the turn, but struck the decisive blow with an eagle three at the 12th. That put him ahead and further birdies at the 13th and 15th holes effectively sealed the title.
“I haven’t been in that good form, I’ve been struggling with an injury, so this is almost overwhelming,” said van der Walt, whose victory also saw him claim the co-sanctioning Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit for 2013. “To win the last event of the year is going to make Christmas a lot more fun.”
Baldwin finished in a tie for second with Jorge Camillo of Spain, the latter had shot an incredible 59 in the second round. Romain Wattel of France finished alone in fourth. He might have challenged for the title had it not been for a triple bogey on the par-5 8th in round two.
Daniel Brooks limped in with a closing 76 to end the week in a tie for 11th.
The Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa
Mount Edgecombe CC, Durban, South Africa
Dec 11-14, purse €1,000,000, par 70
1 Dawie van der Walt (RSA) 67 62 66 195 €158,500
T2 Matthew Baldwin (Eng) 67 62 68 197 €92,100
T2 Jorge Campiillo (Esp) 70 59 68 197 €92,100
4 Romain Wattel (Fra) 64 67 67 198 €49,100
5 Oliver Bekker (RSA) 64 66 69 199 €41,300
T6 Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 66 68 66 200 €27,775
T6 Branden Grace (RSA) 64 66 70 200 €27,775
T6 John Hahn (USA) 69 66 65 200 €27,775
T6 Adrien Saddier (Fra) 66 67 67 200 €27,775
10 Merrick Bremner (RSA) 68 66 67 201 €19,600
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage