Charl signs off with flourish at Alfred Dunhill Championship

He saved the best for last on Sunday, and Charl Schwartzel muscled a nine-iron onto the green for two on the par-five 18th at Leopard Creek Country Club to set up a commanding 12-stroke victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

The resultant birdie saw him sign for a three-under-par 69 to finish on 24-under-par 264, with Swedish rookie Kristoffer Broberg a distant second on 12-under-par 276.

“I had such a bad lie in the rough on the 18th,” said Schwartzel, “and in the back of my mind, I remembered what happened to Ernie Els.”

Els famously dumped two shots in the water on 18 to hand John Bickerton the title on a plate in 2007, and the water around that green claimed a number of balls again this year.

“I just thought I had a lot more shots than Ernie had,” laughed Schwartzel, “so I decided to have a go, just to see if I could pull off the hero finish. I hit that ball so hard. It came out nicely and it worked out okay.”

Schwartzel started the final round with a string of seven consecutive birdies and it was quickly apparent that the pyrotechnics of his middle pair of 64s were not going to be repeated.

“Through the first six holes, I had opportunities,” said Schwartzel, “then the three-putt on eight sort of put a stop to things, because Gregory Bourdy started making some birdies. The lead was down to seven shots, and that was close enough for me – seven shots around this course is catchable.”

He made a birdie on nine, and then the weather intervened, and the players were taken off the course for two hours while the storm flashed itself out.

It was after the weather delay that Schwartzel tackled the back nine with a gusto that was reflected by the three birdies he made, as well as a satisfaction with his ball-striking he has not felt throughout the last two remarkable weeks.

“After the rain delay I started hitting my driver a lot better. I was putting on much better swings,” he said. “It was much more like I wanted it coming down the last few holes. I hit some really good shots, and it was nice for me to finally hit a few shots the way I thought I should hit them.”

Bourdy had reached halfway level with Schwartzel, but was unable to live with the pace set by the 2011 Masters champion, and limped home with a double-bogey seven on the 18th which saw him slip behind Broberg into a share of third at 11-under-par with three other players, including defending champion Garth Mulroy.

Add Schwartzel’s remarkable margin of victory to the 11-shot gap he opened up while winning the Thailand Golf Championship the previous week, and it’s clear that he is in rare form.

“Last week I got that win by a big margin, and normally when you come back the next week it’s hard to put up the same show,” he said. “To me that’s the most satisfying – to continue the form that I had up in Bangkok after the flight and the jetlag and come here and play the same sort of golf.”

He will take that knowledge with him to a lengthy rest ahead of his 2013 campaign, as well as the belief that it’s often after that kind of break that he gets a good year going.

“Normally when I’ve had some time off and I start practicing slowly I have better timing and get it back better,” he said.

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