• Fichardt survives, Nienaber falls short

    Darren Fichardt
    Fichardt survived the grind

    Five-time European Tour winner Darren Fichardt immediately regained his card after surviving the gruelling six-round European Tour Q School in Spain.

    The former Africa Open and Joburg Open winner finished 130th in the 2019 season standings, which meant he was forced to return to Q School in order to earn his playing rights for next season.

    A relatively slow start (71, 72, 68, 71) left him with work to do for the remaining two rounds. A round-of-the-day 64 on Tuesday bolted him into the top 25 and ties – the position required to win back his card.

    Wednesday’s round included two early birdies and he bookended his afternoon with gains at 10 and 18 for a round of 69 which left him one shot ahead of the card line.

    Fichardt’s success was the only good news story from Lumine Golf Club, where former amateur star Wilco Nienaber fell a shot short after a round of 69. The Bloemfontein star looked set to join Fichardt on the tour next season but bogeyed 12, 14 and 15 to offset his eagle two on the 13th.

    Sitting behind the card line with two holes to play, he bogeyed the par-three 17th to see his grasp on a tour card slip away. Nienaber showed his class with a birdie on the last, but the anxious wait to see if the card line would drop to -11 ended in anguish.

    Louis de Jager was left ruing a fifth-round 76 as he finished at -8 alongside Bryce Easton.

    Another former top-ranked amateur, Garrick Higgo, saw his campaign end on the wrong side of the card line following closing rounds of 72 and 73.

    Daniel van Tonder and regular Sunshine Tour winner Neil Schietekat failed to make the fourth-round cut.

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