Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Sunshine Tour -

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.

Darren Fichardt.

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