Golf | 26 Feb 2017 | By Michael Vlismas

Fichardt back to winning ways in Joburg Open

| Photo by Tyrone Winfield

Darren Fichardt won the Joburg Open to claim his fifth European Tour title and his first in four years, and possibly the most special.

“Jeez man, it’s good to win again,” said a clearly relieved Fichardt after he birdied the last for a 68 to win by one stroke on 15 under par at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on Sunday.

With his victory, Fichardt also earns a place in The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club later this year.

“It’s nice to see hard work pay off,” he said of a difficult past few months.

“The form I’ve had the last few months has been horrendous. I decided at the beginning of the year I’m going to play as much as I can and get my game right, and it worked out.”

And one of the immediate perks for Fichardt is being able to plan his schedule a bit more.

“I was working out my schedule last week and there were a few places I just wasn’t looking forward to flying to, but I knew I would have to in order to keep my card.

“Now I can plan a lekker schedule. It’s so nice to know I can just relax for the rest of the year and just play.”

Stuart Manley and Paul Waring shared second place on 14 under, and took the other two spots on offer into the Open. Waring lipped out with his birdie putt on the last to possibly force a playoff.

“A second-place finish, I’ve lost by one – there’s not too much to work on so I’ll take that away from this performance,” Waring said.

South Africa’s Jacques Kruyswijk made a challenge on the final day as well and had the lead at one point before a double bogey on 14 saw him eventually finish in a share of fourth on 13 under.

“I tell you something, Jacques is going to be a great player. At one point out there I told my caddie we are going to have to do something special to beat him,” said Fichardt.

One of the other standout performances came from Keenan Davidse, who achieved his best ever finish in this event and in a European Tour event with a share of seventh place on 12 under.

Davidse is a member of the Gary Player Class of 2017, the Sunshine Tour’s development squad.

This was the first time he’d made the cut in the Joburg Open, and it came at just the right time as he became a father for the first time four days ago.

“I was quite nervous, but it was amazing. I didn’t play a practice round and arrived an hour before my tee-off time because of the birth. I’ve got a beautiful boy, Elijah, and it’s just been an amazing week,” he said.

Photo Credit: Tyrone Winfield.