Nedbank Golf Challenge: Tommy Fleetwood ends 22-month wait for victory to claim South Africa's major after play-off

Tommy Fleetwood celebrates winning the Nedbank Golf CHallenge
Tommy Fleetwood celebrates winning the Nedbank Golf CHallenge

Tommy Fleetwood came from six shots back to eventually claim the Nedbank Golf Challenge with a play-off win over Marcus Kinhult at Sun City.

Leaderboard

-12 Fleetwood*, Kinhult

-8 Scrivener, Wiesberger, Detry

-7 Oosthuizen, Westwood

-6 MacIntyre, Lombard

*Fleetwood wins at first play-off hole

Day four report

Tommy Fleetwood came flying through the field on Sunday before claiming the Nedbank Golf Challenge after a play-off win over Marcus Kinhult at Sun City - and taking home the largest first prize in European Tour history.

A sparkling 65 in the final round gave Fleetwood the clubhouse lead at 12-under, which Kinhult then matched with a nerveless par at the difficult 18th hole to set-up a head-to-head for the whopping $2.5 million first prize.

A wonderful up-and-down at the first play-off hole gave Fleetwood the par that was enough to clinch victory and his fifth European Tour success, but his first this season.

The Open Championship runner-up also jumped up from 10th to second in the Race To Dubai after winning the prestigious Rolex Series event - known as Africa's major - and was clearly emotional after ending a 22-month wait for his latest title.

"The money's not that important," an emotional Fleetwood told Sky Sports after his win. "Being a golfer these days, you have a chance at a young age to set your family up for life, and I'm just very proud of that. And for everybody who goes on that journey with you, it's just really, really cool when you win a tournament, it really is.

"I played a great shot here in the play-off but you never really know what's going to happen with those putts to win it, you just have to stand up and hit them."

Bernd Wiesberger, who could have won the Race to Dubai a week early with a victory, eventually tied for third on eight under alongside Thomas Detry and Jason Scrivener.

Day three report

Zander Lombard saw his lead cut to one shot heading into the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge after firing a battling 72 at Gary Player Country Club.

The world number 234 entered day three two ahead but dropped three shots in as many holes from the sixth to find himself trailing 2010 Open champion and fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen.

He reclaimed a share of the lead on the ninth and then came home in 34 to sit at 11 under, one shot clear of Oosthuizen and Belgian Thomas Detry.

Englishman Oliver Wilson was then at eight under after a 67, alongside Swede Marcus Kinhult.

The performance represents a big upturn in form for Lombard, who had to go back to the qualifying school last season and missed eight cuts in a row in the middle of the season.

"I'm still in the lead," he told europeantour.com. "I've got to stay positive and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow.

"I don't want to sound cocky but it's been a long time coming. I've really made big strides in how I do things on and off the golf course. It's nice to get some feedback and some results from the hard work."

Oosthuizen almost did not play this week and was in pain with kidney stones just hours before his Thursday tee time but he carded a 71 to stay right in contention alongside Detry, who recorded a 69.

The highlight of Wilson's 67 was a chip-in on the 15th, while Kinhult recovered from being three over after six holes in a 70.

Defending champion Lee Westwood and fellow Englishman Aaron Rai were at six under, four shots clear of Scotsman Robert MacIntyre, who carded the lowest round of the day with a 65.

Day two report

Zander Lombard produced one of the rounds of his career to defy tough conditions and take the lead in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

On a day which saw overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen fail to advance his score and just six other players break 70, Lombard's 65 was a tour de force from a serious talent who is looking for a breakthrough on the European Tour.

After starting with a bogey, Lombard carded six birdies and an eagle to reach 11-under, enough for a two-stroke lead over Oosthuizen.

Thomas Detry dropped three shots over the final two holes to fall four back, with Tommy Fleetwood and Marcus Kinhult next after each completed a brace of 69s.

That pair and Lombard are the only three players in the field to have broken 70 on both days at Sun City, a long, demanding golf course whose pins were tucked in awkward positions for Friday's second round.

It didn't stop Lombard, whose eagle came after a fine approach to the par-five 10th, but it did stop Ernie Els, who followed an opening 68 with a nine-over 81 which included a double bogey and two triples.

Els now sits in a share of 50th, having been eclipsed by his young playing partner, less than half his age and with just one minor Sunshine Tour win to his name.

"It's definitely up there," was Lombard's response to where this round, alongside a South African idol, ranked in his career highlights. "We had an awesome time out there.

"We're just fighting for a birdie every hole. I was being aggressive (and) it went my way today."

Day one report

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen battled through the pain barrier to take a three-shot lead after the opening round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City.

The 2010 Open champion shot a flawless nine-under par 63 at Gary Player Country Club to put him clear of Belgian Thomas Detry, with Italy's Guido Migliozzi a further stroke back.

South Africans Ernie Els and Zander Lombard are tied for third at four under, alongside defending champion Lee Westwood.

Oosthuizen had pulled out of the pro-am on Wednesday because of problems brought on by kidney stones, which saw him seek hospital treatment.

The 37-year-old, though, looked to be back to full health as he picked up four birdies on the front nine, holing from 18 feet at the sixth.

Three more in succession followed the turn, including sinking a 15-foot putt on the par-four 11th.

Things, though, could have gone so much differently.

"Yesterday I spent a bit of time in the hospital and crawling around my hotel room with kidney stones, at 3am this morning, on my knees next to the toilet, which is not a great spot," Oosthuizen told the European Tour.

"I didn't think I was going to tee off early this morning. I thought it was going to be a horrible week for me. Somehow it got better a lot faster than what I expected... it sort of eased in like at 6 or 7am.

"I went up to the range, hit a few shots and didn't really bother me.

"It was more the walking fast that got it, so I just slowed everything down.

"I hit it nicely. I swung it really good. There was no big hits, I always went for the smoother club.

"Today was just one of those rounds where I think everything just fell into place."

Detry, meanwhile, recovered from a six on his second hole to turn at two under, before four birdies in the next five moved him right into contention.

Migliozzi had made four birdies in a row at the seventh as he led by two at the turn. However, dropped shots on the 12th, 15th and penultimate holes proved costly.

Els, three times winner of the tournament, shot a bogey free 68, making a birdie on the 17th.

"I didn't quite expect that," said the 50-year-old, who is set to captain the international team at next month's Presidents Cup.

"I haven't played too much golf recently. I really came here with a plan to try and get a swing going, which I kind of did.

"I just went on memory, going around the golf course where I used to hit the ball. Today was a good day."

England's Matt Fitzpatrick, who is trying to maintain his record of winning every year on the European Tour since graduating from Qualifying School in 2014, dropped two shots over the closing three holes to sit at one under, alongside Race to Dubai leader Bernd Wiesberger.

Tommy Fleetwood, also chasing a first victory of the year, is in a group at three under.

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