Date: January 12, 2009
Author: PA Sport

Hansen holds his nerve

Anders Hansen held his nerve on the final hole of the Joburg Open to claim a birdie and win the title from Andrew McLardy. The Dane, who was playing in the penultimate group at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, was level at 14-under going into the par-five 18th hole, and gave himself a great chance of winning by putting his second shot 25 feet from the hole. He missed the eagle chance, but made birdie from three feet to finish on 15-under 269 and see off South African McLardy, who blew several chances to pick up shots over the closing holes. Needing a birdie on the last McLardy made a mess of his tee shot, pulling it into the trees to blow his chance after he led the tournament overnight with Charl Schwartzel and David Drysdale. Scot Drysdale ended his tournament with a 69 – a tournament total 271 – with Danny Willet, Tyrone van Aswegen and Schwartzel ending a further shot back. Three other players finished the week on 11-under 273, including English pair Richard McEvoy and David Dixon, while the round of the day belonged to South African Charl Coetzee, who carded a six-under 66, to finish his tournament at nine-under 275. Hansen though did enough through his final round, finishing in five-under 66 to claim the R2.25 million (A$328,000) prize on his way to a third European Tour title. However, it looked very different on day one when he finished with a level-par 71 to sit eight shots off the lead. He said: “It means a lot to win obviously – because that&aposs of course what we&aposre here for. Especially after the first day where the first two holes I started double bogey-bogey and I was thinking &aposwhat is this&apos?” “But I turned that round around and got off to a flying start the second day. I couldn&apost keep it going, but that sort of helped me put things into perspective thinking about the next day.” “I thought I needed to keep the third round going and again got off to a good start. And then today I thought I had to come out and shoot five-under. I thought 15-under was going to be the winning score, so I was right.” The 38-year-old&aposs biggest move of the co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event on Sunday came on the front nine where he claimed five birdies, including four in four to make the turn in 31. But a bogey on the par-three 12th hole saw him slip back before he hit back on the final hole. He continued: “I played really nicely on the front nine there and hit a lot of good shots, so it was really great. It [the bogey] is obviously a momentum breaker, I didn&apost hit a great tee shot, and it cost me.” “[On the last] I was focused on just hitting a good drive and I did that. I hit a great second shot and the two-putt was enough, so it&aposs great.” Englishman Willett, who began his round with a bogey before finishing birdie-birdie for a round of 68 said: “It was a good finish. I turned in one over and I was not really playing very well and then I tried to get it going on the back nine. I had a really good finish then down 17 and 18, so yeah, I&aposm quite happy.” “A top five this week gets me into next week at Abu Dhabi, which I wouldn&apost have got in otherwise.” “I&aposm just trying to play well this year, keep plodding along and hopefully keep my card, so we&aposll see what happens.” The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for two-time major winner Retief Goosen, who made a three iron 198-metre shot for an albatross on the par-five 18 to end a disappointing round that included nine bogeys in a 74, a tournament total of seven-under 277. Defending champion Richard Sterne, bidding for a third consecutive European Tour title, made a valiant attempt to defend his title finishing with a 68, nine under overall, while Englishman Chris Wood ended with a 73.