Nedbank Golf Challenge 2015
Round 4 - Marc Leishman coasts to six shot winDecember 6, 2015
Australian Marc Leishman played almost flawless golf in Sunday's final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City as he comfortably won his ninth professional title by six strokes at the Gary Player Country Club.
Sweden's former world number two Henrik Stenson finished runner-up as Leishman extended his one shot overnight lead and kept the 39-year-old Gothenburg native well at bay with the day's best final round total of 67 for a four-day total of 19-under.
The win capped a fine day for golfers from Down Under after Nathan Holman won the Australian PGA Championship earlier in the day.
Leishman wins for the first time on the EPGA Tour and picks up his first title since lifting the trophy at the 2012 Travellers Championship.
"It's a lot easier when you don't have to make up ground and it was a great finish," said Leishman who made only three bogeys all week.
"Henrik (Stenson) was getting away a bit on Saturday but it's been an amazing week.
"It's my first time here and we went on a safari on Wednesday which was amazing and I plan to bring my wife and children back next year to defend my title.
"Henrik is an awesome player and in the world's top 10 but I really enjoyed myself and South Africa so definitely looking forward to coming back," added Leishman.
The 32-year-old also led the British Open, at St Andrews in July, with six holes to play, before losing in a three-man playoff to American Zach Johnson but a 72-hole total of 19-under par was far too good for Stenson and the chasing pack.
It was an emotional victory for Leishman whose wife Audrey was hospitalised in March with acute respiratory distress syndrome and given only a five percent chance of survival.
She was put into an induced coma before recovering significantly to return home in mid-April when her husband was able to resume his golfing career at New Orleans.
Stenson, bidding for a 10th EPGA win, came unstuck with bogeys at the 3rd, 7th, 15th and 18th as Leishman carded birdies at 7, 9, 10, 13, 15 and 16 to comfortably hold on in a magnificent closing round.
The Swede came into the tournament after recovering from 'flu and held the third round lead before blaming a poorly raked bunker for a bogey that cost him his advantage on Saturday.
England's Chris Wood finished alone in third place and a further four shots adrift while the Race to Dubai runner-up Danny Willett and Frenchman Victor Dubuisson both carded final round 68's and shared a tie for fourth with American Robert Streb and South Africa's Branden Grace.
Round 3 - Marc Leishman takes over leadDecember 5, 2015
Marc Leishman birdied the last two holes to capitalize on Henrik Stenson's slip-ups and move into the lead on the third day of the Nedbank Challenge.
The Australian began on 8-under par, trailing Stenson by three shots, but a strong back nine saw him close Saturday on a 6-under 66 that left him 14 under and a stroke ahead of the Swede.
Stenson's birdies at the 14th and 15th put some daylight between himself and the chasing pack, but a three-putt on No. 16 brought a bogey and he went on to drive his tee shot at the 18th into the bunker.
The 2008 champion lost his cool at that point, throwing his bag down, and another bogey saw him sign for a 70.
The 32-year-old Leishman is chasing his first European Tour win after coming close at this year's British Open, when he lost a playoff to Zach Johnson.
''I saw Henrik was getting away a little bit so I had to try to do something to make it interesting for tomorrow,'' Leishman said. ''I've been in this position a few times in big events so it's great to draw on that experience.''
Jaco van Zyl drained a long putt at the last to finish with a birdie and end the day on 10 under, while American Robert Streb matched the South African's 72 to sit a shot behind in fourth place.
Van Zyl's compatriots, Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen, both enjoyed good days to ensure a strong South African presence in the top 10.
Grace's 67 left him tied for fifth with Austrian Bernd Wiesberger on 7 under, while Oosthuizen was a further shot back in seventh after his 68.
Round 2 - Henrik Stenson edges aheadDecember 4, 2015
Despite being laid low by illness in the run-up to the event, Henrik Stenson will take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the weather-interrupted Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City.
The Swede had all but ruled himself out of competing earlier in the week after spending three days in bed ill, but he recovered to shoot an opening 66 and built on that on Friday with a five-under-par 67 to go clear at the top of the leaderboard on 11 under.
After a delay of just over two hours due to heavy rain and lightning at the South African resort, Stenson returned to complete his round and fired five birdies on the back nine.
That allowed him to hold a one-shot lead over local favourite Jaco Van Zyl, who shot three birdies and an eagle in a 68 to sit at 10 under overall.
"I'm surprised given that on Wednesday afternoon I didn't think I would be able to tee it up," said Stenson, a winner of this event in 2008.
"I thought I was done and dusted, so to be leading after two days, it's a turnaround to say the least. But the saying is 'beware of the injured or sick golfer' and I guess that's true."
Van Zyl had a birdie, an eagle and a bogey in the first four holes and two more birdies just after the turn, but he finished with seven straight pars to trail Stenson.
"It felt a little like a duel between me and Henrik," said Van Zyl, who is looking for his first European Tour win.
Robert Streb of the United States is two shots off the pace in third at nine under par after a 66 that featured four birdies and two bogeys in his last six holes.
Australia's Marc Leishman is fourth at eight under, while elsewhere defending champion Danny Willett of England shot a 75 to drop back to two under overall.
England's Lee Westwood had a nightmare day, shooting a nine-over 81 to lie third last in the 30-man field.
Round 1 - Trio lead with opening 66sDecember 4, 2015
South African player Jaco van Zyl overcame the nerves attached to his Nedbank Golf Challenge debut to ensure some local representation at the top of the leaderboard as he closed the first round at Sun City level with Henrik Stenson.
Van Zyl was more accustomed to watching the event but on Thursday he birdied three of the last five holes to finish with a flawless 6-under 66 that was matched by Stenson.
England's Danny Willett ended the day in third after shooting 67, while South African Branden Grace and Australia's Mark Leishman were a further shot back in fourth.
''I watch two events on TV each year - the Masters and this, so waking up this morning, instead of making sure the beers and the biltong were ready, I had to make sure my shoes were polished and my clubs were clean and go to work," Van Zyl said.
''On the first tee I could feel my heart beating in my throat. It didn't slow down for the first three holes but I managed to pick up a couple of quick birdies early on which settled the nerves a bit.''
Sweden's Stenson had been doubtful for the tournament after an illness in the buildup, but brushed that off to birdie his first two holes and go into the turn on five-under.
However, the 2008 champion wilted in the afternoon sun, missing a couple of opportunities to take the outright lead as he parred the last eight holes.
''I've been in bed with the flu for three days, and after I had to pull out of the pro-am on Tuesday I probably had a five per cent chance of playing,'' he said. ''I felt quite a bit better this morning and the doctor didn't see any reason why I couldn't play.
''I'm delighted with the score but the last few holes I completely ran out of energy. From the 14th onwards my legs were like jelly and it was a real struggle.''
Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, the two local headline acts, kept themselves in the running with a 70 and 71 respectively.
Oosthuizen was tied for 10th, while Schwartzel was tied for 16th.