There is usually no place to hide when you’re one of the contenders in the final round of a prestigious golf tournament like the Alfred Dunhill Championship, but the unassuming David Lipsky cruised through the final day at Leopard Creek on Sunday and showed a ruthless touch when it mattered most to claim a two-stroke victory.
Lipsky had started the final round one stroke behind leader Scott Jamieson, having birdied the 17th and 18th holes on the third afternoon to stay in touch.
The 30-year-old then began Sunday’s closing 18 with two birdies in a row and Lipsky was in electric form as further birdies on the fifth, ninth and 10th holes gave him a five-shot lead.
Jamieson was shocked by three successive bogeys from the eighth hole and then it was South African Zander Lombard who was Lipsky’s main challenger as he eagled the par-five 13th to go to 12-under.
The American, on 14-under, had seen his drive on the same hole slip into the water hazard, but after a drop and a lay-up, a superb chip to three feet saw him save par and maintain a crucial lead.
They both birdied the 14th, but then it was the turn of Lombard to fall by the wayside as he hit two balls into the water – due to misjudging the wind, he revealed afterwards – on the par-three 16th, his triple-bogey leaving Scotland’s David Drysdale as the only remaining threat to Lipsky.
Drysdale birdied the par-five 18th to post 12-under-par as the clubhouse lead and Lipsky was under some pressure on 13-under after a double-bogey on 16 when he had a plugged lie in the bunker and had to chip out away from the flag, his ball running off the green.
But the former Asian Tour order of merit winner never showed he was under pressure as he calmly finished par-birdie to notch his second European Tour title and become the first American winner in South Africa since 2006, when Jim Furyk won the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City.
“I wanted it to be less stressful for me, but winning is hard work, it’s what we practise and put in time for. But I felt comfortable out there, I discussed the mental game with my coach last night and so I was at ease and really ready for today. Plus those two birdies at the end yesterday after a double-bogey on 16 gave me some momentum and really kept me in contention,” Lipsky said after becoming the first foreign winner at Leopard Creek since Spaniard Pablo Martin in 2010.
Lipsky has had an up-and-down year, with only one top-10 on the European Tour this year, but keeping his card as he finished 95th in the Race to Dubai, but he rode the tide and surged to victory at Leopard Creek after soaring into the lead with a 66 in the second round.
Even when he was ill-placed on Sunday, his superb short game allowed him to get out of trouble.
“It’s been a tough year, I haven’t played that well and it’s been a struggle, so it was really special to end it with a win. My short game was probably the best it’s ever been, my wedge play was really on and I hit so many to 10 feet. It’s one of my strengths but I really beat the odds with my short game today,” Lipsky said.