JOHN GOLIATH talks through the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, after Tommy Fleetwood wiped out a six-shot deficit to win the ‘Africa’s Major’ in a playoff.
Struggles off the tee cost South Africans …
After showing a lot of character in round three to stay on top of the leaderboard, South Africans Zander Lombard and Louis Oosthuizen seemed to wilt in the heat of Sun City on Sunday. Lombard, who recovered from a terrible start on Saturday to shoot level par – he was three over after eight holes – made the turn in 40 before finishing off with a 77. Ooshuizen’s wheels came off on the back nine, when he made four bogyes and a double to come home in 40. Both players really struggled off the tee and to get into positions where they could attack the difficult pins. Oosthuizen, who is normally very reliable off the tee, lacked a bit of energy in the home straight. The problems he had with kidney stones really seemed to take its toll over the weekend, following a brilliant 63 in the first round.
Tommy’s ball-striking clinic
The winner of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, however, didn’t have any problems with his ball-striking. Besides a shocker of a second shot off an iffy lie in the playoff, Fleetwood was simply irresistible in his pursuit to put pressure on the leaders. He made eagles on three of the four par fives, which compensated for three bogeys on the back nine. The pick of the eagles was on the 14th when he hit an absolute peach of a 5-wood to six, seven feet from a pin that would be difficult to get close to with a wedge. Fleetwood launched the ball high in the air and it landed soft as if on a pillow. But it was his driver that put him in those positions to go pin hunting. He hit it straight and long off the tee, while he also dropped a few crucial putts to claim his first win in about two years.
Wiesberger’s brain explosion could be costly
The Race to Dubai concludes this week when the tour heads to the majestic Jumeira Golf Estates. Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger enters the European tour’s finale on top of the points list after winning three times on tour this season, including two Rolex Series events. However, Wiesberger opened the door for the competition following a moment of madness at the 18th on Sunday. After pulling his drive left, and with no real shot into green, the big Austrian decided to play a high-risk snap-hook into the famous 18th green instead of pitching out sideways. He then hit a tree, before deciding to pitch out sideways with his third shot. He then hit his fourth shot into the middle of the green, before two-putting for a double-bogey. At the time he wasn’t really in contention to win, as he had to hole his second shot to tie Fleetwood. From where he was, that was pretty much impossible to do. Now his cushion isn’t as big as what it would have been going into next weekend.