Australia’s Marc Leishman played almost flawless golf in Sunday’s final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City as he comfortably won his ninth professional title by six strokes at the Gary Player Country Club.
Sweden’s former world No.2 Henrik Stenson finished runner-up as Leishman extended his one shot overnight lead and kept the 39-year-old well at bay with the day’s best final round total of 67 for a four-day total of 19-under.
The win capped a fine day for golfers from Down Under after Nathan Holman won the Australian PGA Championship earlier in the day.
Leishman wins for the first time on the European PGA Tour and picks up his first title since lifting the trophy at the 2012 Travellers Championship.
“It’s a lot easier when you don’t have to make up ground and it was a great finish,” said Leishman who made only three bogeys all week.
“Henrik (Stenson) was getting away a bit on Saturday but it’s been an amazing week.
“It’s my first time here and we went on a safari on Wednesday which was amazing and I plan to bring my wife and children back next year to defend my title.
“Henrik is an awesome player and in the world’s top 10 but I really enjoyed myself and South Africa so definitely looking forward to coming back.”
The 32-year-old also led the British Open, at St Andrews in July, with six holes to play, before losing in a three-man playoff to American Zach Johnson but a 72-hole total of 19-under par was far too good for Stenson and the chasing pack.
It was an emotional victory for Leishman, whose wife Audrey was hospitalised in March with acute respiratory distress syndrome, and given only a five per cent chance of survival.
She was put into an induced coma before recovering significantly to return home in mid-April when her husband was able to resume his golfing career at New Orleans.
Stenson, bidding for a 10th EPGA win, came unstuck with bogeys at the 3rd, 7th, 15th and 18th as Leishman carded birdies at 7, 9, 10, 13, 15 and 16 to comfortably hold on in a magnificent closing round.
The Swede came into the tournament after recovering from ‘flu and held the third round lead before blaming a poorly raked bunker for a bogey that cost him his advantage on Saturday.
England’s Chris Wood finished alone in third place and a further four shots adrift while the Race to Dubai runner-up Danny Willett and Frenchman Victor Dubuisson both carded final round 68’s and shared a tie for fourth with American Robert Streb and South Africa’s Branden Grace.