Martin Kaymer of Germany finished two shots clear of home player Charl Schwartzel to win the Nedbank Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa.
Kaymer began the final day one ahead of the field and he saw off strong competition from Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Bill Haas and Lee Westwood to claim his first tournament victory of 2012.
The German started the final round strongly and it seemed he might race away when he made a fantastic eagle at the par-5 2nd. But a double-bogey at the very next hole brought him back to the pack.
The tournament was wide open for the majority of the front nine, but Kaymer pushed on once more with three straight birdies from the 9th. He moved further clear with a birdie on the 14th.
The story could have been very different on that hole. A loose tee shot on the par-5 went unpunished and he was able to pitch back to the fairway. He then found the green with his third and holed for four.
“The biggest luck today was definitely on 14 with my tee shot, and then making birdie,” he said. “I could very easily have made a six or a seven, so that was very lucky that I found that ball in the perfect position and could chip it down the fairway and make four from there.”
The home crowds had good reason to hope for a South African victory for a large part of the final round. 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel came closest. He was just one behind coming down the stretch but a bogey at the 17th halted him in his tracks. He finished alone in second place.
Louis Oosthuizen began Sunday just one behind, but he was unable to push on through the final round. He finished with a disappointing 74 to end the week in fourth.
Bill Haas of the USA eagled the second to enter the fray, but he too crumbled towards the end of his challenge with bogeys at the 16th and 17th holes. He finished in third.
Defending champion Lee Westwood struggled once again on the greens. Despite a sparkling long-game performance, he could score no better than 73 and finish in fifth, one ahead of Scotland’s Paul Lawrie.
It was a double win for Germany at Sun City. Bernhard Langer had secured the Nedbank Champions Challenge on Saturday.
The Gary Player Country Club, Sun City, South Africa
Nov 29 – Dec 2, purse $5,000,000, par 72
1 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 72 69 70 69 280 $1,250,000
2 Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 72 71 70 69 282 $660,000
3 Bill Haas (USA) 70 73 71 71 285 $450,000
4 Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 71 72 69 74 286 $350,000
5 Lee Westwood (Eng) 71 73 70 73 287 $330,000
6 Paul Lawrie (Sco) 71 69 75 74 289 $310,000
T7 Carl Pettersson (Swe) 72 75 74 69 290 $295,000
T7 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 72 71 78 69 290 $295,000
9 Peter Hanson (Swe) 72 73 73 73 291 $280,000
10 Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 70 78 74 71 293 $270,000
11 Justin Rose (Eng) 73 79 69 74 295 $260,000
12 Garth Mulroy (RSA) 75 73 75 74 297 $250,000
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage