Dominant Fichardt takes Durban win

Darren Fichardt has been dominant throughout the week and shot a final-round 68 to win the Suncoast Classic by six strokes at Durban Country Club on Saturday.

Fichardt took his 12th Sunshine Tour victory after closing the R500,000 event at 13-under-par, six shots clear of runner-up Ulrich van den Berg.

“I made it a little hard for myself in the beginning, but when it got closer I managed to get back into my gameplan and I came through with a six-stroke victory, which is nice,” said Fichardt.

He began the event with a first-round 70, carded 65 on day two, and with his final-round 68 tallied 203 strokes over 54 holes.

“Before the tournament I had time off and I worked on my swing. A week later I have a trophy in my hands and I’m very excited about it,” said Fichardt.

His Durban win made for a fantastic start to the summer season. “This was the start of a six-week stretch for me, after that I have a week off and then it’s final stage European Tour QSchool. It’s a good way to start,” he said.

Durban Country Club has hosted the SA Open 16 times and presented a real challenge. “This course tests every facet of your game, and there is not one thing that can be weak, although my chipping wasn’t that great today,” said Fichardt.

Fichardt opened the final day with a birdie, but wobbled soon after and carded bogeys at the third and fourth.

He recovered well with birdies at the fifth, sixth and eighth before dropping a further shot at the ninth to make the turn at one-under-par.

The 36-year-old continued to struggle and bogeyed the 11th, but regained his rhythm at the par-five 14th, found the cup in four strokes and returned to one-under.

He stretched his lead when he took a hybrid into the par-three 15th and one-putted for his sixth birdie of the day.

Fichardt carded birdie at the par-four 17th before shooting his final birdie of the day at the 18th. “To walk down the final hole with a five-stroke lead is amazing,” he said.

Van den Berg shot 35 on the front nine after bogeys at the sixth and ninth hampered his charge, but went on to card a further four birdies on the back stretch and sign for 68.

He would drop at the 17th, but recovered with a birdie at the 18th and took sole possession of second, one stroke clear of Alex Haindl, Allan Versfeld and Warren Abery, who shared third at six-under-par.

Fichardt played solid golf to take his 12th win, but has his sights set on reaching 15 career victories. With five upcoming events may well move closer to that goal.

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