South African Airways Open
South African Airways Open
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Retief Goosen holds off Ernie Els to claim win

Retief Goosen birdied the final two holes to win the South African Open by one stroke from his compatriot Ernie Els on Sunday.

Els's eagle putt on the 18th skirted the lip of the hole and when Goosen got up and down from behind the green victory was his after a three-under-par final round of 70.

South Africa's two leading golfers, ranked fourth and fifth in the world, treated the galleries to a terrific duel with Goosen starting the day three shots ahead.

Although Els's power off the tee and superb iron-play brought him three birdies and a share of the lead by the eighth hole, Goosen birdied the ninth to edge ahead again.

An approach shot that slipped off the green into a hazard left Els with a double bogey on the par-four 12th hole and a deficit of three strokes, but the former world number one fought back with three successive birdies from the 14th.

Els's position strengthened when Goosen went over the green on the par-three 17th hole, but the world number four holed his chip shot for an astonishing birdie.

There was yet another twist on the 18th, however, when Els threaded a superb second shot on the par-five to within six feet of the flag.

The three-times South African Open champion narrowly missed the putt, however, to leave Goosen with a four-foot birdie putt after he had chipped well from off the green.

Goosen's second South African Open title, following his 1995 triumph at Randpark in Johannesburg, was his 11th European Tour victory and was achieved with a 10-under-par total of 282.

Els's excellent five-under-par round of 68 was not quite enough to ensure back-to-back triumphs after his victory in the Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek last week, but his comeback after five months out due to knee surgery is complete.

Briton Ross Fisher, who led after the second day, had a poor final round of five-over-par 78 to finish on two-over-par and a share of ninth place with first-round pacesetter Tim Clark.

Frenchman Gregory Bourdy, who shot a three-under-par 70, and South African Darren Fichardt (74) tied for third on two-under-par 290.

The most extraordinary round of the day came from South African Patrick O'Brien. Starting the day in last position after an 87 left him on 20 over par, the 30-year-old broke the Links course record with a six-under-par 67 to finish tied 58th.

 

 

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