Tommy Fleetwood tore up the par 5s at Gary Player Country Club en route to a playoff win over Marcus Kinhult at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player.
The Englishman started the final day at Gary Player Country Club six shots off the lead but made three eagles as he signed for a stunning closing 65 to set the target at 12 under.
Swede Kinhult was a picture of consistency in a final round 68 as he looked for a second European Tour title of the season after his victory at the British Masters – where Fleetwood was the host.
A poor tee shot on the first play-off hole meant Kinhult had to play out sideways and settle for a bogey, with Fleetwood making an excellent up and down to save par and win $2.5-million – the biggest winner’s prize in European Tour history.
Race to Dubai leader Bernd Wiesberger, Belgian Thomas Detry and Australian Jason Scrivener finished in a tie for third at eight under.
The victory takes Fleetwood up to second on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex as he looks to be crowned Europe’s Number One for the second time in three seasons at next week’s season finale in Dubai.
Fleetwood’s fifth European Tour win is his first since January 2018 and the culmination of an incredibly consistent run of form that has seen him make 41 consecutive cuts worldwide.
‘Golf is a funny old game and all we want to do is win,’ he said. ‘Everybody strives for the same thing week in, week out and unless you do you’re never satisfied, even finishing second.
‘I was struggling with levels of expectation because I wasn’t playing how I thought that I should or achieving the things that I wanted to.
‘It’s such a great, great thing and a feeling to be playing with a chance to win the Race to Dubai in the last event. Everybody starts the Tour at the start of the season to get there and to be one of the guys that can actually finish at the top is very special.
‘At a young age now you have a chance to set your family up for life and I think of all my achievements that’s the thing I’m most proud of.
‘It’s great to have something like that and put that one in the bank account but nothing comes close to holding this trophy – this is the most special thing.’
While disappointed to miss out on the victory, Kinhult was proud of his performance at an event where he finished last on 15 over last season.
‘I’m proud,’ he said. ‘I shot a good score today, got into the play-off and made a silly bogey but I’m happy with the week and how I played. It’s a good week.’
Kinhult made a big early move as he holed from 15 feet on the first and produced an excellent chip on the par five next to get within one.
A very fast, long putt on the third put him in a share of the lead and he made another gain from 15 feet on the sixth but three putted the next as Fleetwood made an enormous charge around the turn.
The 28-year-old had made an incredible bunker save for par on the first and then birdied the second with two putts, holed a 25 foot left to righter on the fifth and made another gain on the sixth to edge up the leaderboard.
A chip-in eagle on the par five ninth saw him turn in 31 and put him two off the lead before he put his second to 15 feet at the par five tenth for a second consecutive eagle and a share.
He sent his tee shot into the rough on the 11th and dropped another shot on the 12th but put his second on the 14th to ten feet for a third eagle of the day and a share of the lead once more.
Fleetwood led by two when he birdied the 15th after getting a fortunate bounce off a greenside sprinkler but he gave the shot straight back when he failed to get up and down on the 16th.
Kinhult had made seven consecutive pars but he holed a remarkable putt from the fringe on the 15th with a huge left to right break and he and Fleetwood were the only contenders – locked together at 12 under.
Fleetwood set the target as he parred his last two holes and Kinhult finished with three pars, holding his nerve to get up and down after a poor second on the last to set up the play-off.
A victory would have handed Wiesberger the Race to Dubai title with a week to spare and when he made a hat-trick of gains from the tenth after turning in 34, he was right in it.
Back to back bogeys on the 15th and 16th ended his chances and while he birdied the next, a double on the last dropped him to eight under.
Scrivener made three birdies and a single bogey to play his way into next week’s DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, while Detry will also tee it up next week despite a disappointing closing 74.
Home favourite Louis Oosthuizen was in a share of the lead at the turn but came home in 40 to finish at seven under alongside defending champion Lee Westwood.
Zander Lombard and Robert MacIntyre were at six under, two shots clear of Matthew Fitzpatrick, Joost Luiten and Kalle Samooja.
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