Lee Westwood wins Nedbank Golf Challenge for third time

Lee Westwood celebrates his thrilling victory
Lee Westwood celebrates his thrilling victory

Lee Westwood came out on top after a gripping battle with Louis Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge for the third time.

Leaderboard

-15 Westwood

-12 Garcia

-11 Oosthuizen

Day four report

An emotional Lee Westwood fought back tears after claiming his first European Tour title since 2014 with a third victory in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.

Westwood fired an eagle and six birdies in a brilliant final round of 64 at Sun City to finish 15 under par and three shots ahead of overnight leader Sergio Garcia, with home favourite Louis Oosthuizen a shot further back after a double bogey on the 18th.

The victory is Westwood's 24th on the European Tour and his first on the circuit since April 2014, although he did also win the Indonesian Masters on the Asian Tour in 2015.

And it vindicated the 45-year-old's decision to rule himself out of the running to be Europe's Ryder Cup captain in 2020 as he targets a record-equalling 11th appearance in the contest as a player instead at Whistling Straits.

"I'm a bit emotional to be honest, you're never sure whether you're going to be able to do it again," Westwood, who previously won the event in 2010 and 2011 when it was a 12-man invitational, told Sky Sports.

"Still got it, I guess. Just nice to do it again under pressure and win against a couple of quality players at the end there. I can't wait to watch the highlights to be honest because I hit so many good shots coming in."

Westwood's partner Helen Storey was his caddie for the week and he added: "It's been brilliant. She's caddied twice for me this year and we lost in a play-off in Denmark and we've won here. Might have to have a bit of a rethink, not least about who caddies for me, but our percentages!"

Westwood began the final round three shots behind Garcia, but made the ideal start with an eagle from three feet on the par-five second and also birdied the eighth to reach the turn in 33.

Further birdies on the 11th, 13th and 14th ensured he kept pace with Oosthuizen as the pair traded blows on the back nine before Oosthuizen crucially three-putted the 15th from the back of the green.

Westwood seized his opportunity with both hands and birdied the 16th and 17th to leave Oosthuizen needing to eagle the last to force a play-off, but a wayward drive led to a double-bogey six to drop the former Open champion into third place.

"There's not much more I could have done more," Oosthuizen said. "I made good putts. I missed a few easier putts, but all in all I attacked when I wanted to attack and I pulled a lot of good shots off.

"Hats off to Lee the way he played today. Eight under around that golf course without a dropped shot is good golf."

Garcia had been chasing back-to-back wins and a wire-to-wire success after an opening 64, but had to settle for second place after a closing 70.

"I didn't have my A game, other than Thursday obviously, but I fought hard," Garcia said. "I'm thrilled for Lee. He had a bad Ryder Cup at Hazeltine (in 2016) and he struggled a little bit, but he's been playing much better this year.

"He's been knocking on the door for winning. I wish I would have won myself, but if not, obviously to see Lee do it is pretty nice."

Day two report

Sergio Garcia fell back towards the chasing pack with two late bogeys at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, where Louis Oosthuizen emerged as his biggest threat.

Four clear after round one, the biggest lead the Spaniard has ever held after the opening 18 holes, Garcia's advantage is down to a single shot after bogeys at the 16th and 18th holes on Friday.

Oosthuizen's five-under-par 67 saw him move into second, with Finland's Mikko Korhonen set to enhance his excellent record in South Africa in third.

Garcia holed from 25 feet on the first hole to extend his overnight lead and gained another shot at the second, before a miss from two feet at the fifth resulted in his first dropped shot of the tournament.

The former Masters champion bounced back immediately with a birdie at the sixth and when he birdied the ninth his control of the tournament appeared as strong as it had been at any point in the week.

Garcia failed to take advantage of the 10th, though, and while responding to another three-putt at the 13th by birdieing the 14th, mistakes at two of the last three holes saw his lead reduced dramatically.

Oosthuizen defied a double-bogey at the eighth, getting both shots back with an eagle at the 10th in a sparkling round of 67.

Korhonen came home in 33 after a trio of bogeys on the front-nine had threatened to ruin his chance and sits three off the lead heading into the weekend.

Ross Fisher was clear second until making a nine at the par-four 15th, eventually settling for a level-par round having been eight-under for the day with four holes remaining.

Matt Wallace also made a costly mistake, his coming at the 16th, and it's Dylan Frittelli, Shane Lowry, Lee Westwood and Aaron Rai who share fourth place, five off the lead.

Day one report

Sergio Garcia produced a flawless 64 to open up a four-stroke lead after round one of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

A winner in his native Spain a fortnight ago, Garcia's bid for back-to-back titles got off to an ideal start as eight birdies helped him establish daylight over the chasing pack, headed by home hope Charl Schwartzel.

Rory McIlroy fired a level-par 72 to fall to 20th having been three-under with five to play, with defending champion Branden Grace ahead of him at two-under.

Garcia, our headline selection at 10/1, began with a birdie on his first start in the event for five years, adding a second at the seventh before a lengthy birdie putt at the ninth found the centre of the cup.

From there, he birdied the 10th and 11th for three in a row - the latter thanks to an aggressive putt which slammed against the back of the hole - before another run of three in a row from the 15th completed a fine day's work.

"It felt great. I rolled the ball nicely, I made some good putts here and there," said Garcia.

"It was one of those rounds where things happened nicely to me. I think I played very smart, I probably wasn't swinging unbelievably but I kept it under control and kept the ball in play all the time which is difficult to do here.

"I managed to guess some of the winds here right and that is very, very difficult. When you can do that here, it's nice to be able to shoot a score like this."

Playing alongside Garcia, Schwartzel birdied the 18th in a four-under 68 as Mikko Korhonen had done earlier, with Mike Lorenzo Vera completing the group in a share of second.

Ashun Wu was bogey-free in a three-under 69 which was matched by early pace-setter Louis Oosthuizen, and on the same score sits Matt Wallace following five birdies over his closing nine holes.

McIlroy holed from 15 feet for par at the first before a regulation birdie at the second, but he gave that shot back immediately and struggled to find his rhythm.

Birdies at the sixth and eighth holes had him moving in the right direction but he failed to birdie the par-five ninth, instead salvaging par after his approach from an ideal position had found water.

Another wayward approach saw him fail to take advantage of the straightforward 10th hole and at the final par-five, the 14th, it was a pushed drive which resulted in a lost ball and, ultimately, a dropped shot.

Things got worse at the 17th where he ran up a double having found sand with his second as his slim Race To Dubai hopes took a potentially fatal blow.

More to follow

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