Richard Sterne wins in dramatic finish
Richard Sterne made up a four-stroke deficit to win the Dunhill Championship in a thrilling finale at Leopard Creek on Sunday.
The South African captured his fourth European Tour title and second this year with a three-under-par 69 to finish one stroke ahead of Briton Robert Rock and Sweden’s Johan Edfors.
Rock posted a two-under 70 while Edfors carded a 66 for the lowest round of the day and an overall score of 16-under.
Sterne made his move with successive birdies at 13 and 14 and took control of the tournament with another on 15.
“I only saw the leaderboard on 16 and got a surprise to see I was leading by one. That’s when I knew 17 under would be good enough,” Sterne told reporters.
The final hole decided the outcome as it had a year ago when Sterne’s fellow countryman Ernie Els squandered a two-shot lead after finding the water surrounding the island green twice to hand victory to Briton John Bickerton.
Facing the hole where he posted a triple-bogey on Friday and a double-bogey on Saturday, the 27-year-old made no mistake this time.
“I spoke to Ernie the night before the final round and he was giving me hell about that eight I made in the second round. I knew if I messed up 18 on the last day I would never hear the end of it,” said Sterne.
“I obviously wasn’t feeling too comfortable on that hole and played it exactly the way I wanted to play it. That’s a tough hole but I got through it. I don’t think many have won this tournament with a triple and double on that hole.”
Sterne’s par on the last proved enough when overnight leader Thomas Aiken of South Africa, who shot a course record 61 on Saturday and needed a birdie to force a playoff, dumped his approach in the water.
Aiken stumbled to a 75 to tie for fourth alongside Spain’s Raphael Cabrera who shot a 68.
Sterne, who won the Johannesburg Open in January, moved up to fourth place in the Race to Dubai standings.
“I had a great start to the year and great finish. Everything in between wasn’t too good,” he said.
Briton Lee Westwood had a steady week, his final 71 giving him a share of 16th while Rory Sabbatini did not enjoy his return home when a pair of concluding 73’s gave put him joint 49th.