ItÂs been over nine years for Darren Fichardt, and while the Saint-Omer Open in France is not the highest-profile event, the 37-year-old South African was thrilled to finally claim his third European Tour title.
ÂTo win is awesome,Â said Fichardt. ÂThe last four years IÂve had injuries and missed out at the Qualifying School a couple of times, and you wonder if youÂll ever make it back. So it was amazing to get my card last year back at Q-School, and to win on my ninth start this season is a dream come true. The exemption for next season is very welcome.Â
Fichardt won the 2001 Sao Paulo Brazil Open and the 2003 Qatar Masters and played in the 2000 World Cup alongside Retief Goosen, and he drew on his vast experience to see out the victory in France.
He overcame a third day of high winds as well as the challenge of Simon Wakefield and Gary Lockerbie of England to claim the victory.
Having started the day five shots clear of his nearest rival, FichardtÂs two-over-par round of 73 was enough to seal the victory at five under, three strokes ahead of Lockerbie, who signed for a 69, and four from Wakefield, who bogeyed the last for a 72.
Fichardt admitted there were Âno heroicsÂ in his round, and he was just grateful to hang on for the win. ÂIt was messy today,Â he said. ÂIt definitely wasnÂt pretty. I was absolutely terrified and I was happy we didnÂt have to play any more holes.
ÂIÂve been in the lead before going into the final round, so I was familiar with the feeling,Â he said. ÂBut this golf course has a lot of trouble, and if you try and play safe you can just end up in even more trouble, so I was happy to get the job done in the end.
ÂI was struggling with the lines and pace of putts on the greens, and my club selection was out today, but in the end I got it round and made a few good putts to save par.Â
Justin Walters also had a good tournament in the tough conditions, carding a closing 70 to climb 19 places into a share of 11th, while Tyrone Ferreira, Michiel Bothma and Peter Karmis missed the cut.