Martin Kaymer survived a late wobble to hold on for his first title of the year with victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City yesterday.
The overnight leader bogeyed the 15th hole to see his advantage at the top of the leaderboard cut to one stroke by South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel but held his nerve the rest of the way to prevail by two strokes.
Kaymer finished on eight under par overall, with Schwartzel at six under and American Bill Haas alone in third, three strokes further back.
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen began the final round just one stroke behind Kaymer, but a 74 yesterday saw his challenge run out of steam.
The former Open champion ended up fourth on two under, one stroke ahead of defending champion Lee Westwood, who carded a 73.
Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, the leader after the second round, went over par for the second day running as he only managed 74 to finish in sixth place.
Kaymer famously sank the putt that ensured Europe retained the Ryder Cup back in September, but on a personal level this season has been a disappointment for the German.
He admitted that as the opportunity to finally break his year-long victory drought edged closer, nerves began to tell.
“It was always tight,” said Kaymer. “Charl played a great round of golf and I was telling (my caddie) that I need a win. I need a win in 2012.”
Rainy conditions on the final day at Gary Player Country Club were in keeping with the previous three, meaning yet again that scores were kept in check by the weather.
No one shot better than 69 all week, and that mark was again achieved by Kaymer yesterday having also managed a three-under total over the second round.
The German began in positive fashion yesterday, hitting a brilliant eagle on the second only to see his hard work erased with a double-bogey at the third.
Birdies at nine, 10 and 11 took him clear of the pack again, although Schwartzel’s birdie on the 14th trimmed the lead to one.
Kaymer hacked his way out of the rough to make an unlikely birdie on 14 and took his lead back out to two, but a bogey at the next meant the pressure stayed on.
Schwartzel’s victory bid finally stuttered as he committed his first bogey of the day at the 17th, as Kaymer made par the rest of the way to close out an overdue victory.