Near-perfect final round is enough for Sterne to move top of Dubai list

South African Richard Sterne produced a faultless closing round to claim a seven-stroke victory over local boy Charl Schwartzel with a tournament record 27-under at the Johannesburg Open.

England's Richard Finch

The 31-year-old, from Pretoria, who had not won on the European Tour since 2009, sank eight birdies in his closing 64 to card a new record of 260.

Sterne never looked in real danger after overnight joint-leader Trevor Fisher Jr saw his challenge collapse with a one-over-par final round.

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Fisher, starting early due to the threat of bad weather, opened up with an eagle on the par-five first but faltered from then on while Sterne remained consistent. The latter collected five birdies to head into the turn at 24-under.

The South African was second to Stephen Gallacher in Dubai last week and his £176,242 victory at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club put him into the world top 64, good enough to qualify for the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona. In what proved a close race for second place, Johannesburg native Schwartzel shot eight birdies in his 66 to finish on 20-under 267.

A day’s equal best, an eight-under 64 from Portugal’s Ricardo Santos, saw him finish a shot further back in a tie for third with South African George Coetzee and Felipe Aguilar of Chile.

Garth Mulroy, Brandon Pieters and Keith Horne had all been in contention at the turn, but were unable to maintain their birdie runs over the back nine.

Fisher ended with a total of 269 to tie for sixth.

Scotland’s David Drysdale remained the best-placed British golfer, tied for 11th after dropping a costly shot on 16 having opened up with five birdie on the front nine. Tommy Fleetwood, from Southport, was tied 13th on 15-under after his closing 69 saw him finish on 272.

Sterne has overcome injury problems, after missing most of the 2010 and 2011 campaigns because of a form of arthritis in his back. The South African now moves to the top of The Race to Dubai with 450,053 Euros.

After his record-breaking display, Sterne said: “It was a pretty special day.

“It is quite tough coming from a good week into another week; you kind of do expect to play well, but I got off to such a good start on the West Course.”

Hull’s Richard Finch – the only surviving Yorkshire golfer after Danny Willett and Neil Cheetham failed to make the cut – finished 18 shots back off the lead with a final day round of 72.

Collated final round scores & totals in the European Tour Joburg Open, Royal Johannesburg and Kensington GC, Johannesburg, South Africa

(Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72):

260 Richard Sterne (Rsa) 63 65 68 64

267 Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 68 65 68 66

268 Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 67 66 68 67, Ricardo Santos (Por) 70 65 69 64, George Coetzee (Rsa) 67 64 70 67

269 Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 67 70 66 66, Keith Horne (Rsa) 67 66 71 65, Trevor Fisher Jnr (Rsa) 66 62 68 73

270 Garth Mulroy (Rsa) 70 68 65 67, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 67 68 68 67

271 Brandon Pieters (Rsa) 69 69 67 66, David Drysdale 68 67 68 68, Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa) 66 68 67 70

272 Tommy Fleetwood 68 66 69 69, Bryce Easton (Rsa) 65 70 70 67

273 James Kingston (Rsa) 66 70 70 67, Paul Waring 71 67 67 68, Justin Walters (Rsa) 71 67 67 68

274 Ricardo Gonzalez (Arg) 70 66 70 68, Peter Uihlein (USA) 65 69 68 72, Hennie Otto (Rsa) 70 67 69 68, Danie Van Tonder (Rsa) 68 70 67 69, Tyrone Ferreira (Rsa) 66 70 71 67, Lee Slattery 67 72 67 68

275 Robert Jan Derksen (Ned) 69 70 67 69, Tyrone Mordt (Rsa) 65 70 71 69, Adilson Da Silva (Bra) 66 72 70 67, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 67 69 70 69

276 Jacques Blaauw (Rsa) 70 67 71 68, George Murray 71 66 69 70, Steve Webster 71 67 69 69, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 63 72 72 69, James Kamte (Rsa) 70 67 68 71

277 Dean Burmester 67 68 69 73, Bjorn Akesson (Swe) 69 67 73 68, Jake Redman (Rsa) 66 71 72 68, Allan Versfeld (Rsa) 66 73 69 69

278 Tjaart Van Der Walt (Rsa) 67 69 69 73, Justin Harding (Rsa) 69 70 70 69, Tom Lewis 72 65 67 74, Lasse Jensen (Den) 68 70 73 67, Jaco Ahlers (Rsa) 71 68 69 70, Richard Finch 67 68 71 72, David Horsey 66 72 72 68, Jose Manuel Lara (Spa) 69 65 73 71, Oliver Fisher 68 68 70 72

279 Jbe Kruger (Rsa) 68 70 74 67, Peter- Henric McIntyre (Rsa) 72 67 72 68, Mj Daffue (Rsa) 65 70 71 73

280 Merrick Bremner (Rsa) 68 69 73 70, Espen Kofstad (Nor) 66 71 72 71, Phillip Price 68 71 69 72, Scott Henry 69 70 71 70, Alexandre Kaleka (Fra) 66 73 71 70

281 Ulrich Van den berg (Rsa) 71 68 68 74, Gary Boyd 67 71 69 74, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 65 71 73 72, Peter Hedblom (Swe) 72 67 72 70, Ryan Cairns 67 70 70 74

282 Andy Sullivan 68 70 72 72, Bradford Vaughan (Rsa) 69 70 71 72, Graeme Storm 76 62 73 71

283 Ockie Strydom (Rsa) 66 71 73 73, Gregory Havret (Fra) 70 69 74 70

284 Gary Lockerbie 70 69 75 70, Oliver Bekker (Rsa) 68 68 73 75, Alessandro Tadini (Ita) 67 71 69 77

288 Michael Hollick (Rsa) 70 69 71 78

290 Josh Cunliffe (Rsa) 67 70 82 71