Fleetwood eagle on 14 wins him 2nd Nedbank Golf Challenge

Nov 13, 2022 | Featured, Sunshine Tour

In the end, Tommy Fleetwood’s tears as he won his second successive Nedbank Golf Challenge didn’t last too long, as his five-under-par 67 final round was as emphatic an underlining of his victory as he could have wanted.

He nearly made an outrageous birdie on the final hole to make his one-stroke margin of victory one shot larger, but the eagle he made on the 14th which took him into a share of the lead at that stage with his playing partners Ryan Fox of New Zealand and India’s Shubankar Sharma.

It was a chip-in eagle on the 14th which set things up for a nervy journey down the stretch: He hit his approach a little left into the waste area which enfolds the very shallow green. But his 17-yard shot out of the sand found the bottom of the hole.

“It wasn’t the best lie, but I felt alright about it,” said Fleetwood. “There seemed to be a bit of clay underneath, but I felt okay. It wasn’t a terrible place to be. I don’t know how far it would have been past if it hadn’t gone in and missed on the second bounce, but it came out lovely and went in.

“That spark just happens when you walk through the door and you win. Sometimes those things happen and sometimes they don’t.”

It started happening when Sharma faltered with bogeys on 16 and 17, and Fleetwood stayed as steady as a player of his quality needed to be. Fox then butchered his tee shot on 18 – with an iron – and was left with an unlike chance of an up and down to save his par there. He chunked his first chip from the thick kikuyu rough, and hit his next one too far past for a safe par and a possible play-off.

Fleetwood was watching from the edge of the green, and as he fell into the embrace of his caddie, the tears flowed. Briefly.

“It’s been a great week,” said Fleetwood. “Obviously, I have so many amazing memories from this place and I feel like I have such a great connection to it. This win has just added to that.”

The South African challenge fizzled out after Branden Grace and Thriston Lawrence were handily placed heading into the final round. Grace had a three-over 75 to slip to a share of eighth, and Lawrence could not recover from a triple-bogey seven on the third to get his campaign back on track. In the end, a four-over 76 put him in a share of 13th.

It was left to the ever-steady Christiaan Bezuidenhout to close with a level-par 72 to finish on seven-under for the tournament, four shots behind Fleetwood.

“It’s so cool that I called my dad on Wednesday and told him about seeing my winner’s plaque on the walk up to the ninth,” said Fleetwood. “He said, ‘Let’s go and get another one.’ To have done that and to be part of this amazing tournament is great.”

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