Sunday, November 27, 2011


Hennie Otto overcame a nervous back nine to win his national title at the South African Open Championship.
The 35 year old won his second European Tour title by a stroke from Austrian Bernd Wiesberger after a compelling finish at Serengeti.
Otto was three clear with six holes to play, but fell back into a tie with bogeys at the 13th, 15th and long 16th.
The former Italian Open winner chipped to six feet and birdied the 375 yard 17th, however, and then safely parred the last for a closing 72 and 14 under par total of 274.
The victory, which seemed a formality before Otto found sand at the 13th, came up short of the green at the par three 15th and overcooked his approach at the next, takes him from 80th on The Race to Dubai to comfortably inside the top 60 just in time to secure his place at the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World.
With Wiesberger already in the clubhouse, the big-hitting Otto drove through the green at the downwind 17th, chipped to six feet and made the birdie putt.
There was still the water on the last to negotiate, but off a perfect drive he found the green and by two-putting for par took the title.
Having been three ahead overnight he said: "I worked out that if I shot four under (68) they would have to shoot seven under. It didn't work out that way.
"There are some great names on the trophy and I said it would be great if I could add mine. Today's the day."
He is the sixth South African to win on The European Tour this season, following Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel (2), Thomas Aiken and Garth Mulroy, whose victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship was the 100th by a South African in The Tour’s history.
For Wiesberger, who did close with a 68, it was a second runner-up finish of the year. He was in the five-man play-off won by Thomas Björn at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in August.
Joint third were Aiken, compatriot Ockie Strydom and England's Richard McEvoy, after he too scored 68 - a performance that earns him a European Tour card for next season after he came into the week 121st on The Race to Dubai, three places outside the cut-off mark, and moved all the way to 107th.
Northern Ireland's Gareth Maybin, on the other hand, slipped from 118th to 120th after finishing well down the field, but he does still have the UBS Hong Kong Open to come this week.
Twice winner Retief Goosen carded a 73 and dropped into a tie for sixth, but it was still a far better week for him than it was for five-time champion Ernie Els.
Still in with a chance on six under at halfway, Els followed his third round 76 with a 79 and came joint 69th.
Motherwell's Steven O'Hara, who led at halfway and needed a top-three finish to save his card, fell away to 25th and fellow Scot Lloyd Saltman faces a return to The Qualifying School as well after a double bogey 6 on the last dropped him to ninth.
If the former amateur star from the Lothians had parred the hole he would have been joint third and would have earned a spot in Hong Kong.
His closing 70 included eight birdies, but also a bogey 6 on the long third and a triple bogey six at the ninth.
Former Ryder Cup star Phillip Price may well have done enough to avoid a trip to PGA Catalunya Resort in December, however.
He holed an 80 foot birdie putt on the final green to finish in a tie for 35th, which moved him up one place to 116th.





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