Lee wins on Sun City course ‘that sets up like a major’

Lee Westwood played as well as he needed to on Sunday on a course set up as tough as any major championship course on his way to his second consecutive Nedbank Golf Challenge victory.

He finished on 15-under-par 273 to take the title on the tough Gary Player Country Club layout by two strokes from Swede Robert Karlsson, with American Jason Dufner in a share of third on 11-under with Graeme McDowell.

“It’s a really good golf course,” said Westwood. “It sets up like a major championship golf course. You start missing the flags in the wrong places, and going for flags you shouldn’t go for, getting above the hole – that’s very much like a major championship golf course.”

So after his pyrotechnical display in the third round when he carded a championship record 10-under-par 62, which gave him a seven stroke lead, he decided that discretion was the better part of valour.

“It wasn’t going to be easy today, going out with a big lead,” said Westwood, “because you’re never sure how to play. I tried to just break it down into fairways and greens. That wasn’t possible all the time, but I didn’t make any silly mistakes out there.”

In fact, he made the turn in two-under-par after making birdie on six and nine, and despite some frantic efforts from Karlsson and McDowell, and to a lesser extent Dufner, he seemed to be sailing serenely to the title.

But, in what looked like his first false shot all week, Westwood let a five-iron leak right for his approach to the 10th and was left with a tricky chip to get on the green.

But when you have a five-stroke lead with nine to play, you can afford a bad shot. And when you have a five-stroke lead, chances are you have been playing that well that your chip almost pitches in.

In any event, Westwood got his ball down in two putts, and walked away with a par – and with that, it looked as if the tournament was done and dusted.

Mind you, there was another little speed wobble – or two.

His tee shot on 12 went well right of the green. His chip shot was 10 feet short, and the two-putt gave him his first bogey in 36 holes.

And just as he made birdies in clusters in his record-breaking third round of 10-under-par 62, he proceeded to make bogeys in clusters as he missed a putt from inside a metre on 17, and, on 18, after finding a greenside bunker with his approach, missed a 10-footer for par.

But the tap-in gave him the victory over playing partner Karlsson, who had the round of the day with his four-under 68. It was a finish one better than his third place in his debut at Sun City in 2008.

In fifth place was KT Kim, who finished a good week on eight-under, while a tired-looking Charl Schwartzel ground his way to sixth, one ahead of world number one Luke Donald.

But Westwood must certainly have a shot at regaining that lofty perch. “It’s not the highest item on my agenda,” he said, “because I’ve been world number one. While it’s fantastic, and it’s the pinnacle of the game, people’s careers are defined by major championships.”

A second consecutive victory on a course like the one he won this event on must make him feel he is closer than ever.

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