SUN CITY — Martin Kaymer of Germany on Sunday showed nerves of steel in a thrilling final round at the Nedbank Golf Challenge to claim the R11.1m winner’s cheque and his first tournament victory of the year.
The win also marked his first victory at the event commonly referred to as Africa’s Major. Kaymer entered the final round with a one-stroke lead over South African Louis Oosthuizen, and despite facing tough competition from the world No7 and his compatriot Charl Schwartzel, Kaymer held his nerve to card an impressive round of three-under-par 69 for a total of eight-under par 280 and a two-stroke victory.
Such was the tight competition, that Bill Haas of the US, Oosthuizen and Kaymer were tied at the top of the leaderboard at five under par early in the day, with defending champion Lee Westwood and Schwartzel one stroke behind.
An eagle on the par-five second and birdies on the par-five ninth and 10th, 14th and par-four 11th, however, gave Kaymer an edge going into the last seven holes.
But he dropped a shot on the par-four 15th after finding the back of the green on his approach shot, which forced him to chip onto the green. He then left his first putt just short of the hole and tapped in for bogey.
Schwartzel — who declared last Wednesday that he had no expectations going into the event — did well to keep up with Kaymer thanks to his strong round, which included birdies on the par-five second, ninth, 10th and 14th.
But the pressure got the better of him on the par-four 17th as he duffed his chip onto the green, leaving him with a two-putt for a bogey.
With the victory in the bag, Kaymer adopted a cautious approach and settled for pars from the par-three 16th to par-four 18th to hold on to the lead.
Oosthuizen imploded in the final round, carding bogeys on the par-three seventh, 12th and 16th and par-four eighth and 18th, which cancelled out his three birdies. This forced him to settle for a disappointing final round of two over-par 74 and a fourth-place finish.
Westwood’s hopes of becoming the first golfer to win three successive titles were dashed as he also crashed spectacularly. He carded a disappointing final round of one-over par 73 thanks to bogeys on the par-four eighth and 18th and the par-three 16th, and a double bogey on the par-five 14th.
Commenting on the victory, a delighted Kaymer said: "I am very happy to finally win this year.
"Coming into this event, I told my caddy that we have to win at least one tournament every year and this was perhaps our last chance (for this year), so fortunately we could bring the trophy home."
GOLF CHALLENGE SCORES
-8 (280) – Martin Kaymer -6 (282) – Charl Schwartzel -3 (285) – Bill Haas -2 (286) – Louis Oosthuizen -1 (287) – Lee Westwood +1 (289) – Paul Lawrie +2 (290) – Francesco Molinari, Carl Pettersson +3 (291) – Peter Hanson +5 (293) – Nicolas Colsaerts +7 (295) – Justin Rose +9 (297) – Garth Mulroy