Lee Westwood was in tears as he claimed a three-stroke victory in the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player at Sun City on Sunday, ending a four-year win drought for the Englishman.
With a sublime final round of 64 for a total of 15 under par, Westwood beat Sergio Garcia, who led for most of the tournament, and home favourite Louis Oosthuizen for his third triumph in “Africa’s Major”.
When Westwood won the Nedbank Golf Challenge the first time in 2010 he was the world number one. And what pleased him most this time, at the age of 45, is that he played like the world number one again.
“I’ve still got it,” he said after becoming the first European to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge three times following his victories in 2010 and 2011.
“It’s just nice to do it again under pressure and win against a couple of quality players at the end there. To hit the shots I hit down the stretch, it was just nice to prove it to yourself.”
Westwood was three off the lead held by Garcia at the start of the final round and set up his challenge with an eagle on the par-five second hole. He birdied the difficult eighth, and then made the title his with that back nine.
In an incredible display of controlled aggression around a golf course which he has immense respect for, Westwood made five birdies on the back nine.
Garcia came home with a 70 to take second place on 12 under par, while Oosthuizen, who led briefly and still had a realistic chance to catch Westwood, made a double bogey on the 18th after a drive way right and then ricocheting his second shot off the concrete pathway to take third place on 11 under with a 69.
But Oosthuizen admitted afterwards, “The way Westy played the back nine, you know, he was just too good”.
It was a finish that Westwood was immensely proud of.
“I hit great shots all the way in. I can’t wait to watch the highlights to be honest because I hit so many good shots coming in.”
And with this win, the man who has been such a fixture of the European Tour for so many seasons, will have the one thing he’s been desperate to get his hands on of late.
“You know, it’s really sickened me that I kept getting on the first tee and everybody’s caddies had gold bibs (for winning a Rolex Series tournament) and I didn’t have one. I was thinking, ‘It’s time you won one of these things. You need a gold bib on your caddie’.”