INSPIRED WIN FOR FICHARDT
Darren Fichardt’s victory in the Joburg Open is an inspirational story.This was his fifth European Tour victory, and it comes 16 years after his first, in Brazil in 2001. Others were in Qatar, France, and at the Africa Open in East London. Having struggled of late, his first win in four years came courtesy of a new putting grip and putter.The win also qualified him for the Open (at Royal Birkdale in July) for the first time since 2010. Fichardt, who turns 42 in May, is an example to promising young South Africans that winning big titles is not about flashy play, but grinding out the pars and making the birdies when they are on offer. He only had two bogeys in 54 holes at Royal J&K.
Of our current generation of top players under the age of 45, Fichardt ranks fifth in terms of European Tour victories behind Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Richard Sterne, all players more naturally gifted than him. Fichardt turned pro in 1994 without doing anything stellar as an amateur, yet hard work and belief has taken him to the top of his game, as well as a healthy driving distance (280 metres on average at Royal) which belies his slight frame. His career has parallels with that of Tony Johnstone, another player who knew how to close out a victory when he got a sniff of the lead.