Schwartzel does it again in South Africa


Charl Schwartzel cruised to his second straight European Tour title with a six shot win at the Joburg Open.

The Africa Open winner coasted around Royal Johannesburg and Kensington in a five under par 66, following rounds of 63, 68 and 64 for a 23 under par total.

That was far too good for the chasing pack, with Schwartzel’s fellow South African Keith Horne sharing second with Darren Clarke on 17 under following a best of the day final round 64.

Clarke let slip a chance to apply real pressure midway through the front nine, but chipped in for eagle on the last.

Schwartzel’s notable double takes Schwartzel to 35th in the World Rankings, his best ever position. It could also lead to him making his Masters debut in April, with the top 50 the week before the first Major of the season all qualifying.

Schwartzel said: “It’s been a fantastic two weeks for me. I played good last week and it definitely carried over.

“I played pretty much flawless golf and I don’t know what it comes down to – maybe a good positive frame of mind when you hit a bad shot.

“I’m leading the Order of Merit, but it’s still early days and I think this will get me into The Masters. I’m very excited about that.”

He will now try to become the first player since Seve Ballesteros in 1986 to win three consecutive European Tour events, but the competition in Abu Dhabi will be a lot stiffer.

The field includes eight of the world’s top 14 – last season’s Race to Dubai winner Lee Westwood, defending champion Paul Casey, last week’s PGA Tour winner Geoff Ogilvy, Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer.

Schwartzel picked up €206,050 and so Westwood will begin his defence of The Race to Dubai title already more than €400,000 behind.


PGA TOUR: Ryan Palmer expected the worst when his chip from 50 feet short of the 18th green came out a little strong. His chip struck the pin squarely, and instead of running about 8 feet past the hole, it settled a few inches away. Palmer tapped in for a birdie and a 4-under 66, giving him a one-shot victory in the Sony Open in Hawaii when Robert Allenby missed a 10-foot birdie putt. “What a way to start the year,” Palmer said.

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