Van der Walt wins in Chile


2015 Africa Open: Day 1Dawie van der Walt fired a six-under 65 Sunday and earned his first career title, taking the Chile Classic by two strokes over rookie Erik Barnes.

Van der Walt was in a dogfight for most of the final round and held steady in the wind before closing with a birdie on the 18th to distance himself just enough to collect the first-place check for $108,000. The 32-year-old transplanted Texan finished at 21-under 263, two in front of his playing partner Barnes, who closed with three consecutive birdies for a 5-under 66 and solo second place.

The final pairing of Wes Roach (68) and 54-hole leader Craig Barlow (69) each held parts of the lead throughout the afternoon but had trouble down the stretch. Roach turned the front nine at Club de Golf Mapocho in four-under but eight pars and a bogey on the back left him three off the pace. Barlow had an ace the 214-yard, eighth hole and was tied for the lead as late as the 14th hole, but bogeys at the 15th and 17th cost him a shot at victory.

“It’s very sweet,” said van der Walt of the win. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Van der Walt almost didn’t tee it up this week. He’d just finished four weeks in his homeland with European Tour and Sunshine Tour events and decided to stop in Santiago before heading to the Houston area, where he now lives.

“I played pretty decent last week,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking I wasn’t going to make the cut but thought I might play well here. I certainly wasn’t expecting to win.”

Maybe not expecting it, but those who were paired with him during the week weren’t surprised.

“Dawie played great today,” said Barnes, who had a front row seat in Sunday’s finale. “He hit it good. He chipped it good. He putted good. That’s hard to beat.”

Van der Walt started the day one shot off Barlow’s lead but quickly got everyone’s attention with four birdies in his first six holes. He added another at the ninth and his sixth of the day at the par-five 12th.

“It was a combination of things,” said van der Walt of the reasons for the win. “I hit a lot of shots close. Sometimes you hit good shots and they just don’t end up close. I hit my irons really good and a lot of them were close this week. Not having 40-footers helped.”

Barnes kept plugging away but didn’t bother to look at the electronic scoreboards.

“There wasn’t any point,” said Barnes. “Dawie was playing so good there was no point looking at the board because I knew he was beating me and it didn’t matter what those guys were doing.”

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