Tommy Fleetwood wins fifth European Tour title in Nedbank Golf Challenge playoff


Nedbank Golf Challenge: Tommy Fleetwood claimed the penultimate Rolex series event with a par on the first playoff hole against Marcus Kinhult

Tommy Fleetwood earned his fifth European Tour title and first victory of 2019 after defeating Marcus Kinhult with an up and down par save on the first playoff hole in Sun City. 

Fleetwood, who started the final round six shots back, set the clubhouse of 12-under after a seven under 65 – which included three eagles in six holes. 

He was soon joined by Kinhult at the top as the overnight leaders slipped away, and an up and down par save on the first trip back up the 18th was enough for him to earn his first victory on the European Tour since January 2018.  

Afterwards, Fleetwood spoke being proud that the second Rolex Series win of his career – which comes with a $2.5million cheque – was something that will help set up his family for life. 

“Golf is a funny old game and all we want to do is win,” he said. “Everybody strives for the same thing week in, week out and unless you do you’re never satisfied, even finishing second.

“I was struggling with levels of expectation because I wasn’t playing how I thought that I should or achieving the things that I wanted to.

“It’s such a great, great thing and a feeling to be playing with a chance to win the Race to Dubai in the last event. Everybody starts the Tour at the start of the season to get there and to be one of the guys that can actually finish at the top is very special.

“At a young age now you have a chance to set your family up for life and I think of all my achievements that’s the thing I’m most proud of.”

After a third-round 73, Fleetwood lay six strokes behind overnight leader Zander Lombard but quickly moved up the leaderboard after three birdies on his first six holes. 

He then closed out the first of three eagles with a chip in at the par-five ninth to move to 10-under, and followed it with his second eagle at the very next hole to move to leaderboard at 12-under. 

It was short-lived though, as Fleetwood bogeyed the next two holes in a row, but he quickly bounced back by holing a 10-foot putt for another eagle at the 14th, and added a birdie at the next at the 15th to gain the outright lead – aided by a helpful bounce from a sprinkler head. 

He then lipped out for par at the 16th before parring his way in to set the clubhouse target at 12-under as Lombard, Oosthuizen and Detry all struggled on the final day and slipped out of contention. 

Meanwhile, British Masters champion Marcus Kinhult and Race to Dubai leader Bernd Wiesberger emerged as Fleetwood’s key challengers.

Wiesberger put himself in to contention with six birdies in his first 12 holes, but a bogey, bogey, birdie, double-bogey finish left him in third. On the other hand, Kinhult birdied his first three holes of the day and added a further birdie and bogey for an outward nine of 33 to get to 11-under, and joined Fleetwood after a final birdie on the par four 15th before making a crucial up-and-down par save at the 18th to force sudden death. 

In the playoff, both Fleetwood and Kinhult failed to find the fairway, and while Fleetwood went over the back of the green with his approach, Kinhult was left to punch out from behind a tree. 

His approach failed to find the green, and Fleetwood managed to get up and down for par, and victory. 

With his win, Fleetwood now moves up to second in the Race to Dubai rankings behind Wiesberger ahead of the finale in Dubai next week.

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