There was a brief moment when he might have worried about throwing it away when he made bogey on the fifth, but he followed that minuscule stumble with six more birdies to go with his two in the first three holes to finish five clear of England’s Matt Ford, and seven ahead of Spaniards Jorge Campillo and Eduardo de la Riva, and 2013 South African Open champion Morten Orum Madsen of Denmark.
“It’s a good thing you can’t see nerves,” he joked afterwards. “They were there, especially during the last four holes. It was quite tough, but I just tried to keep it smooth and everything worked out.”
But for that bogey – and it was only his third of the week – he played flawlessly in his final round for an eight-under-par 64, capping a bravura performance with a 2-footer for birdie on the 18th, as if to underline how much better he was than those who tried to chase him down.
But he felt that the turning point came around the turn. “I hit the best shot of the week with a four-iron that I flushed into the ninth green,” he said. “I took two-iron off the tee and I knew that my long-irons had been good all week. But I still knew that I had to hit it well, so making birdie on nine, when Matt made bogey – that was big.”
He followed it up with a birdie on the par-three 10th, and, although Ford never gave up, it was essentially one-way traffic.
Not that Fisher was going to admit it to himself. “I hit another great four-iron in to 15, and made another birdie there, right after Matt had closed the gap to three,” he said. “And then when I birdied 16, I knew I had a bit of breathing space, and I was able to tell myself that I could play it safe all thee way home.”
Ford, who earned his European Tour card the hard way after 10 attempts at Qualifying School, played like a seasoned veteran. His closing 67 contained just a single bogey, and should have been good enough to win, but for the dazzling Fisher showing.
After trying on many previous occasions to play his way onto the European Tour through Qualifying School himself, Fisher has now taken a bit of a shortcut: He gains exemption on that tour until the end of the 2016 season, and that means he can plan his schedule with more care – and a little more financial freedom.
Give that his victory in last year’s Chase to the Investec Cup won him R3.5-million, and set him up to feel less pressure in his professional life, this latest win means the world to him. “I can take my time planning where to play, I can take my wife and kids with me when I travel – it’s just a huhe bonus,” he said.
And his name joins three other major champions on the Africa Open trophy. Retief Goosen, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen have all won in East London. “I hope that’s an omen,” laughed Fisher.