Ross fishing for second Tshwane title

From The European Tour

2014 Tshwane Open: Day 4Ross Fisher is bidding to successfully defend a European Tour title for the first time in his career when he tees it up in this week’s Tshwane Open.

Fisher, who has won a total of five times on the Tour, ended a four-year drought 12 months ago when he saw off the challenge of Michael Hoey and Danie van Tonder in Centurion, South Africa.

Hoey’s title tilt faltered when he succumbed to a double bogey after finding the water on the 12th hole, and when Fisher eagled the 15th the tournament was effectively over as a contest.

Despite a closing bogey, the Englishman sewed up victory by three strokes to capture his first title since the 2010 Irish Open.

He said: “I started off well with a birdie, but then Michael [Hoey] went on a bit of a charge and drew level with me when he eagled the fourth. It was nip and tuck for most of the back nine, but the key moment was Michael’s double on 12, which gave me a bit of breathing space.

“But I still had a bit of work to do, so it was nice to get over the line and get back into the winners’ circle. It had been a while since my last win, and whilst I wouldn’t say it was necessarily playing on my mind, it’s always nice to win golf tournaments and it’s just as nice to go back and defend your title.”

Fisher will not be returning to the scene of his victory, as the tournament has switched to Pretoria Country Club, which is hosting a European Tour event for the first time.

Despite never having played the 7,063 yards, par 72 layout, which was re-designed by Gary Player in 2004, Fisher is still confident of mounting a strong title defence.

He said: “I’ve been in pretty decent form this season, I played really well in the Nedbank at the start of the season and then had some reasonable results in the Desert Swing at the beginning of the year. After that I took some time off and am feeling nice and fresh now, so I’m going to Pretoria in pretty good shape, both mentally and physically.”

Perhaps the main threat to Fisher could come from his compatriot Andy Sullivan, who is seeking his third European Tour title of the season on South African soil, having won both the Joburg Open and the South African Open Championship.

Should he triumph again Sullivan would become only the fourth player in history to win his first three European Tour titles in the same country, following in the illustrious footsteps of Tommy Horton and Tom Watson, who both recorded their first three wins in England, and Phil Mickelson, whose first three wins came in America.

Sullivan is also bidding to become the first player to win three tournaments co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour in the same season.

Another player with a place in the history books in his sights is Dawie Van der Walt, who claimed his maiden European Tour title in the inaugural Tshwane Open in 2013.

Van der Walt doubled his tally with victory in the 2014 Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS and should he claim a second Tshwane crown, he would become the first South African to win his first three European Tour events on home soil.

Van der Walt’s compatriot Trevor Fisher Jnr will be bidding to secure back to back victories after claiming his maiden European Tour title in last week’s Africa Open.

Fisher Jnr romped to victory in East London by five shots from Matt Ford courtesy of a stunning closing round of 64.

Other notable names in the field include Europe’s 2016 Ryder Cup Captain, Darren Clarke, and four-time European Tour champion Matteo Manassero.

 

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