Australia’s Marc Leishman outplayed Henrik Stenson of Sweden in sweltering conditions in Sun City to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge by six strokes.
Marc Leishman began the final day one stroke ahead of Henrik Stenson and the Swede was never able to get on level terms. Both men dropped a shot at the 3rd but birdies for Leishman at the 7th and 8th holes took him to the turn two clear of Stenson.
On the run for home, Leishman drove the advantage home. He played some superbly solid golf and, despite some excellent scrambling from Stenson, Leishman proved himself the better player on the day. Birdies at the 15th and 16th holes sealed the win and he was able to enjoy the walk over the last two holes.
“It felt great,” he said. “One of the keys this week was that I didn’t make too many mistakes. It’s always good if you don’t feel you’re having to make up too much ground. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the week and I look forward to defending my title next year.”
Stenson finished a distant second, six shots back, while Chris Wood of England snatched third place thanks to a solid final round of 68 and a couple of blunders by other players.
Robert Streb looked to have solo third sewn up but he doubled the last to drop back into a tie for fourth with Branden Grace, who three-putted the final green, Victor Dubuisson and defending champion Danny Willett.
4 Talking points from the Nedbank Golf Challenge
1 – It’s been quite a year for Australia’s Marc Leishman. In April his wife almost lost her life after falling seriously ill with toxic shock syndrome. It saw here put into an induced coma. At that stage, golf was a long way down the Australian’s agenda. But thankfully Audrey came through the scare and Marc slowly got back into the game. In July, he proved his potential by making a playoff for The Open Championship.
This win is a significant one for the Australian. It will secure his place well inside the top-50 on the Official World Golf Ranking, gaining him entry into the significant tournaments in 2016. He also walked away with a cheque for $1,250,000. A reasonable Christmas bonus.
2 – Henrik Stenson couldn’t find a spark on the final day. He’d struggled towards the end of the third round and those travails continued on Sunday. His score of 72 could have been a good deal worse had he not saved himself on a number of occasions from awkward spots. On the 17th he drove into a bunker, pitched out short of the green and then holed his third for a birdie. Although he’ll be disappointed to miss out on the win, he can console himself with the fact that his second place finish earned him significant Race to Dubai and Ryder Cup points. He has a great record in this event. He’s never finished worse than fourth in the tournament.
Henrik Stenson swing sequence:
3 – Chris Wood played some excellent golf down the stretch with four birdies in a back nine of 32. After errors by Robert Streb and Branden Grace at the death, he found himself alone in third. It could be significant for the Englishman as he should climb into the top-50 on the Official World Golf Ranking and, if he can stay there to the end of this month, he’ll earn an invite to The Masters next April.
4 – Defending champion Danny Willett performed admirably to finish the week in a tie for fourth. During the second round, he was struggling to such an extent with back trouble that it looked as though he may not be able to finish the tournament. He limped in with a 75 but bounced back brilliantly on the weekend with rounds of 70 and 68.
Nedbank Golf Challenge
Gary Player CC, Sun City, South Africa
Purse: $6,500,000, par 72
1 Marc Leishman (Aus) 68 68 66 67 269 $1,250,000
2 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 66 67 70 72 275 $775,000
3 Chris Wood (Eng) 70 71 70 68 279 $433,000
T4 Danny Willett (Eng) 67 75 70 68 280 $270,750
T4 Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 71 73 68 68 280 $270,750
T4 Robert Streb (USA) 69 66 72 73 280 $270,750
T4 Branden Grace (RSA) 68 74 67 71 280 $270,750
8 Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 72 70 71 68 281 $175,000
T9 Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 71 74 67 70 282 $160,000
T9 Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 70 72 69 71 282 $160,000
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage