Fichardt relies on experience to win Betway Championship

Darren Fichardt with the Betway Championship trophy. Picture: Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images

After making a victorious comeback, Darren Fichardt said he was grateful for the return of butterflies after five months without any competitive golf.

Fichardt birdied the last hole for a six-under-par 64 and a one-stroke victory in the Betway Championship at Killarney Country Club on Friday.

His 64 was the lowest round of the tournament and saw him sign for a three-under-par total of 207, one ahead of fellow veteran Ulrich van den Berg, who himself had a birdie putt on 18 for the tie and a playoff, but it shaved the hole from 12 feet out.

The 45-year-old Fichardt holed out from eight feet on the last for his sixth birdie of the day and his 18th Sunshine Tour title as the Betway Championship launched the new Rise Up Series that marked a return for professional golf.

“I’m very happy to win and it’s just awesome to have those competitive golf butterflies again after five months on the couch,” Fichardt said after claiming R95 100 for the win.

“Going into the final round six shots behind, it’s just a case of whatever happens, happens. It’s a case of all or nothing.

“My tee-shot on 18 was a bit short, so I had to keep my approach under the trees. It was a bit low, but it helped because with a high floater you never know how it’s going to bounce.”

Darren Fichardt in action at Killarney Country Club

Darren Fichardt in action during the first of three rounds at Killarney Country Club. Picture: Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images

Overnight leader Alex Haindl fell down the final classification with a two-over-par 72, finishing in a tie for third.

Two birdies on the front nine kept him neck-and-neck with Anton Haig, who eagled the fifth, but successive bogeys at the seventh and eighth saw Haindl slip, and he came home in 37.

Haig collapsed on the back nine with five bogeys and a double-bogey on the par-three 17th when he was short of the green, but struggled to get out of a grass bunker.

Jaco Prinsloo and Ruan Korb shared third place with Haindl on one-under-par. Prinsloo was in a share of the lead but bogeyed the last two holes.

Fichardt said it was a brutally tough return to action for the Sunshine Tour golfers, likening the course, which was dry with greens like ice-rinks, to a US Open layout.

“I realised today that you just have to get the ball into play here. You have to position yourself,” he said.

“It was definitely experience that carried me through today, after I was a bit more aggressive in the first two rounds.”

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