Home favourite Trevor Fisher was crowned king of the Africa Open on Sunday, with an emphatic eight-under-par round of 64 enough for the South African to claim his first European Tour victory by five shots, as European Tour revealed:
Englishman Matt Ford enjoyed a great week to land second place, but Fisher never looked in danger of surrendering the two-shot lead he took into the final day.
Here’s a look at the final leaderboard from a scintillating tournament at the East London Golf Club:
|Africa Open Leaderboard|
|Position||Golfer||To Par||Round 4|
|1||Trevor Fisher Jnr||-24||64|
|T3||Eduardo De La Riva||-16||66|
|T6||Jaco van Zyl||-14||70|
Day 4 Recap
While a 24-under-par total is enough to win any tournament, it’s how Fisher got to that astronomical figure that’s really impressive.
The South African was four shots adrift of Ford on seven under heading into the weekend, but suddenly he found the formula for success.
A 63 and a 64 followed, with Fisher’s round on Sunday being all the more commendable by the pressure on his shoulders.
He wasn’t feeling an ounce of it, though, and flew out the traps with birdies on the first and third holes to give himself some breathing space on the field.
Fisher’s first bogey since the first hole of the second round followed at the par-three fifth, but he wasn’t to be shaken.
Answering back with two straight birdies was the perfect way to get back on track, and from then on, the tournament crown was never going anywhere else.
Four more birdies saw Fisher take a five-shot lead down the final hole, where he chalked up another birdie to win the title in emphatic style—per The European Tour:
The conditions and course were in his favour, sure, but the way Fisher conducted himself was as if he was going for his 101st European Tour win, not his first.
Ryder Cup star Paul Lawrie was one of many singing the South African’s praises on social media:
Following the round, Fisher told European Tour that he was happy with his day’s work and thanked the flat stick for his success:
It is always nerve-racking leading, not to think about the result, but it’s quite hard and I think I did a good job today. I was nervous the last few holes, I think that is natural. It was a great day, I played well and everything went well. The putter was amazing, I sank some amazing putts today. It is written in the stars.
While the day was all about Fisher, Ford can also leave Eastern Cape with his head held high.
A final round of 67 was put together brilliantly, but it just wasn’t enough for success.
That said, there’ll be endless positives for the Englishman to take from his week, and CNN’s Shane O’Donoghue remarked that it could be the start of something big:
With the tour’s elite in action at the WGC Cadillac Championship, the chance was there for one of the lesser-known players to make a name for themselves, and Fisher and Ford seized it with both hands.
Next week, Fisher will be out to continue his form in front of his adoring home crowd at the Tshwane Open in Waterkloof.
While he’s one of many South Africans vying for the crown, Fisher has shown that he has what it takes to win tournaments, and it would be far from a surprise to see a repeat performance at the Pretoria Golf Club.
Day 3 Recap
Trevor Fisher Jnr shot a sensational nine-under par round of 63 to move two shots clear ahead of the final day of the Africa Open.
The local hope is poised on 16-under after three days, ahead of Englishman Matt Ford who is on 14-under and compatriot Jaco van Zyl who is on 12-under for the championship.
Here’s a look at how the race for the championship is shaping up with one day remaining:
For full video highlights, visit Europeantour.com by clicking here.
|1||Trevor Fisher Jnr||-16||63|
|3||Jaco van Zyl||-12||68|
|T4||Morten Orum Madsen||-10||64|
|T4||Eduardo de la Riva||-10||72|
Ford was leading by a shot coming into the weekend at the East London Golf Club, but he was powerless to prevent Fisher Jnr from surging ahead of him in the overall standings.
The 35-year-old from Johannesburg took the course apart on Day 3, firing an immaculate round that contained seven birdies, an eagle and no dropped shots whatsoever. Fisher Jnr never looked flustered throughout his time on course and every facet of his game was in exceptional working order as he motored to the front of the field.
If he replicates that kind of form on Day 4 then the South African will be a tough man to halt, but he has a decent buffer in hand over second place Ford as well as the rest of the field.
It was a day of ups and downs for the chasing Englishman. He started well enough after notching three birdies inside the first seven holes, but he took a double-bogey six at the eighth to knock some momentum out of his play.
It was a similar tale on the back nine too, as birdies at 10, 12 and 13 were backed up by a bogey at 14. Nonetheless, Ford is well in the hunt to secure what would be his first title on the European Tour.
Further down the leader board, Van Zyl continued his solid form here to stay in touch with the leaders, shooting a four-under par round of 68.
Morten Orum Madsen also thrust himself into contention after an immaculate round of 64, pushing him to 10-under for the championship; the Norwegian began the day birdie, birdie, eagle to set to tone for an exceptional round.
Going in search of his first ever European Tour win, it’ll be intriguing to see just how well Fisher Jnr handles the pressure of leading a prestigious tournament on the final. But his 63 on Day 3 will have surely given the South African a huge amount of confidence moving forward.
If Ford can start well alongside Fisher Jnr in the final group then that could potentially throw the leader off his game. But it’s imperative the Englishman rediscovers the consistency he showcased over the first two days if he’s going to stand any chance of overhauling the two-shot deficit.
Day 2 Recap
Matt Ford continued his excellent form in the second round of the 2015 Africa Open, finishing Friday's session with a score of six-under 66 to take a one-shot lead over Spain's Eduardo De La Riva.
Jaco Van Zyl is the highest ranked local player, sitting three strokes back, while Maximilian Kieffer was the day's biggest riser, carding a round of nine-under. Here's the current leaderboard:
|2015 Africa Open Leaderboard: Day 2|
|Position||Player||Overall||Round 2 Score|
|2||Eduardo De La Riva||-10||66|
|3||Jaco van Zyl||-8||66|
|3||Erik van Rooyen||-8||66|
|6||Trevor Fischer Junior||-7||68|
For full video highlights, visit Europeantour.com by clicking here.
Ford led the pack after Thursday's opening round of 67 and did one better on Friday, taking advantage of the fading wind that plagued the early starters. The Englishman had four birdies on the front nine and added two more and an eagle on the back nine, showing excellent control from the tee.
He found the fairway 12 of 15 times and held a three-shot lead over De La Riva at one point, but bogeys on the ninth and 17th gave the Spaniard the chance to bridge the gap heading into the weekend. Per the European Tour's Twitter account, the duo are on the verge of making history:
The current leader told Europeantour.com he would have settled for a round of 66 at the start of the day:
I don’t think you can ever get all of it out of the round.
I missed a short one on 17 and hit a poor tee shot off nine, so those were a couple of mistakes, but you’re always going to make a few of those. I would have taken 11-under at the beginning of the day.
De La Riva started on the ninth and looked shaky from the tee early, recording two bogeys on his first three holes, but he was flawless the rest of the way, scoring eight birdies to match Ford's score.
Van Zyl also played a round of six-under, overtaking tying France's Gregory Havret and compatriot Erik van Rooyen for third, three shots behind the leader.
New Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke finished his round four-under 68 after an even round on the first day of competition, comfortably surviving the cut. As shared by the tour's Twitter account, he's sitting pretty heading into the third round, although he's unlikely to be playing for the title:
Andy Sullivan's bid to record a hat-trick came to a crashing halt, however, as the winner of the South Africa Open and Joburg Open finished five-over.
Kieffer had a fantastic day, shooting a nine-under to move up to sixth after dropping a shot on his first hole of the day:
The German bounced back with eight birdies and an eagle to do one better than Craig Lee, who carded 64 on the day.
Ford remains the man in form, and if the Englishman can erase some of the small mistakes that halted his run on Friday, he should be among the favourites to win this year's Africa Open.
Local hero Van Zyl shouldn't be overlooked, however—he came in second during last week's Joburg Open and will be determined to do even better during the weekend.
Day 1 Recap
Kevin Phelan and Matt Ford lead the way after the first day’s play at the Africa Open; both players shot scores of 67 to leave them five-under par at the end of Round 1.
A five-strong chasing pack is just one shot back on four-under, including the English trio of Richard Bland, John Parry and David Howell. Neil Schietekat is the highest ranked home player in amongst the aforementioned group, while exciting up-and-comer Matthew Fitzpatrick is a further shot back on three-under.
Here’s the full leaderboard from the opening day at the East London Golf Club and a closer look at how the action played out in South Africa. (Be sure to check out the full leaderboard on the European Tour website).
|Round 1 Leaderboard|
|Position||Player||Overall||Round 1 Score|
|T3||Eduardo de la Riva||-4||68|
|T8||Trevor Fisher Jnr||-3||69|
It was the early starters who made the biggest impression on Day 1, with Phelan and Ford surging to the top of the leaderboard.
Phelan finished strongly at the Joburg Open in the final round last week and clearly had some momentum behind him coming into this competition. It took the 24-year-old a while to get going after starting at the 10th hole and a bogey at 11 put him one-over after two holes, but for the rest of the day the Irishman was immaculate.
Six birdies followed for Phelan and as we can see here courtesy of the European Tour Twitter account, he looked in fine fettle:
Ford’s round was also especially impressive. He too started on the back nine, but the Englishman’s round was blemish free as he rattled off five birdies. Threes at the sixth and seventh pushed Ford up the leaderboard, leaving him level with Phelan come the end of the day.
But there’s a clutch of classy players in hot pursuit of the duo. Bland is one of those men and he recovered superbly after a minor blip mid-round. As he told the European Tour website, the Englishman was happy with various facets of his display:
I had a little bit of a wobble through the middle, but I bounced back well. I hit a lovely shot into the 12th and made a good putt. On 14 today I hit driver, gap wedge and managed to take advantage of it. It was nice to finish strong.
Also in the hunt is Howell, who came close to winning the Joburg Open last weekend. As we can see here, the 39-year-old is enjoying a very encouraging upturn in form at the moment:
The man who triumphed at the aforementioned even was Andy Sullivan. After winning the South Africa Open and the Joburg Open already this year, the manned known as “the spaceman” is clearly in a rich vein of form and the conditions in the country noticeably suit his stylistic principles down to the ground.
But he endured a day of highs and lows, notching five birdies and five bogeys during a level-par round of 72. Alongside him on that mark is newly-named European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke; the Northern Irishman bagged two birdies and two bogeys in what was a solid opening day effort.