Fichardt wins Joburg Open with last-hole birdie

South African Darren Fichardt not only topped the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club leaderboard, but also claimed one of three 2017 British Open places up for grabs.

Darren Fichardt celebrates after winning the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in Johannesburg on Sunday.   -  Getty Images

South African Darren Fichardt birdied the last hole Sunday for a final round 68 and a one-stroke victory in the rain-affected Joburg Open.

The European Tour event was reduced from 72 holes to 54 after the first three days of the championship were interrupted by torrential rain.

Fichardt not only topped the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club leaderboard, but also claimed one of three 2017 British Open places up for grabs.

The other two invitations to the major at Royal Birkdale were taken by Joburg Open runners-up Paul Waring of England and Stuart Manley of Wales.

Fichardt shot rounds of 66, 66 and 68 for a 15-under total of 200 over a course that resembled marshland in places after downpours from Thursday to Saturday.

Waring closed with a 69 and Manley with a 67 for totals of 201 as they both sought a first European Tour triumph.

It was the fifth European Tour success for 41-year-old Pretoria-born Fichardt, and his first since lifting the Africa Open trophy four years ago.

"This was a tough final round for me," admitted the South African who changed his putter and putting grip this week after months of frustration on the greens.

"I could not hole a putt to save my life in recent weeks," he admitted after receiving the trophy from the mayor of Johannesburg. "My old putter had suffered a lot and needed a holiday," joked the champion. “I gave it to my son and have not seen it since.”

"I did not putt very well today and was outdriven at every hole by my two playing partners, but I stuck in there. "Earning a place at the British Open is a tremendous bonus - going to Royal Birkdale will be awesome."