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Charl Schwartzel clinches victory by a shot

Charl Schwartzel, the highest-ranked player in the field, won the Africa Open by one stroke on Sunday.

The world number 66 claimed his fourth European Tour title when he held off fellow South African Thomas Aiken after a closing six-under-par 67 secured a 20-under total of 272 at the East London Club.

Aiken (70), chasing his first European Tour victory, had a chance to force a playoff when he was left with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-four 18th but his effort drifted to the right.

Schwartzel, 25, experienced some nervous moments on the last after pushing his drive and closing with a bogey.

“Hitting that tee shot right was not the ideal position to be in but I played almost flawless golf for the first 17 holes,” he told reporters after the first prize of 158,500 euros ($227,000) pushed him to the top of the European money list.

“Thomas made a really good run and put some pressure on me but I knew if I made five on the last he would have to make birdie to get to me. Luckily I did what I needed to do.”

South African Jbe Kruger (70) finished third on 274, one ahead of compatriots Trevor Fisher (72) and Chris Swanepoel (68), Briton James Morrison (68) and Australian Rick Kulacz (67).

Schwartzel, who dropped only one shot on Sunday, fired seven birdies including a run of four in the first seven holes.

He was three ahead after hitting a superb approach to three feet for a birdie at the par-four 14th.

Schwartzel, who last won on the European Tour at the 2008 Madrid Masters, picked up another stroke at the 15th but Aiken gained ground with three back-nine birdies.

The Africa Open was also co-sanctioned by the South African Sunshine Tour.


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