Merrick takes wire to wire Lombard victory

Merrick Bremner hung on for a wire to wire victory at the Lombard Insurance Classic on Sunday, carding a final-round 71 at Royal Swazi Sun Country Club to win by two strokes.


“It’s all surreal at the moment and hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s just all happening too quickly,” he laughed.


Bremner took his maiden victory at the Lombard Insurance Classic back in 2008, a moment that launched his career. His win this week has a similar significance for the 27-year-old, who moves to 22nd on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.


“It’s been five years since I’ve been in the winners’ circle, so the win is great. I’ve been close a couple of times over the last few years and thankfully I managed to pull it off today,” he said.


His third career title was founded on two incredible rounds before the 36-hole cut. On Friday he carded nine-under-par 63 to set the pace in Swaziland and kept the momentum rolling with a Saturday 65.


Starting Sunday on 16-under-par and four strokes ahead was daunting for the big-hitting Els Club professional. The nerves affected him at the start and he carded bogeys at both the first and second holes, which opened the door for his chasers and set in motion a cat-and-mouse Sunday finale.


Jean Hugo was the first to move and birdied four of his last five holes on the front nine. He turned level with Bremner, the pair on 15-under-par.


Hugo stumbled into the back nine with a bogey at the 11th and failed to recover, making another bogey at the 15th before reaching the clubhouse in sole third on 13-under-par.


PH McIntyre picked up the chase with two birdies around the turn and shot a Sunday 67, but it was not enough to catch Bremner, who birdied the 15th and 18th for a two-shot victory.


“It was a tussle going into the back nine,” said the new champion. “But Jean slipped at 15 and that gave me some room to breathe. I got to 17 and PH had made birdie, but luckily I made birdie at 15 and then again at the last.”


McIntyre’s 15-under-par total was worth sole second, but he’s set his sights on a victory this season.


“I’ve been playing well since the beginning of the year, and now I have to be patient until the breakthrough comes. Maybe I can snatch one during the winter swing!” he smiled.


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