Marc Leishman capped a difficult year on Sunday after landing his first European Tour title at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, finishing six shots clear of early leader Henrik Stenson.
Leishman, who nearly gave up the game at the start of the season to care for his ill wife and their two children, sighted her recovery as the driving force behind maintaining his tour status.
Playing at the Gary Player CC in Sun City, thirty of the tour’s best players assembled and it was Stenson that set the early pace before the 32-year-old Australian moved into contention after a sparkling round of 66 on Saturday.
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Leishman then had little trouble in negotiating his way to the title on Sunday, finishing ahead of world number seven Henrik Stenson.
Taking a one-shot lead into the final day, it looked like it would be a straight duel between the Australian and the Swede but after a tight start it was Leishman who stretched ahead with six birdies over the last 12 holes to finish on 19-under-par.
The win will see the world number 47 rise up the rankings, potentially into the top 25 and will give him the confidence to press on throughout the season.
Speaking after his victory, Leishman said: “It’s amazing. I’m so happy. It’s not very often that you can walk up 18 with a cushion and enjoy it.
“I knew it was going to be a really tough day, I knew I had to play well. Henrik’s an awesome player and I knew he’d make me earn it, which he did.”
Stenson himself had a solid round but could only finish level par for the day to finish on 13-under whilst Englishman Chris Wood was a further four shots back on nine under.
The European Tour will now take a winter break with the next events starting in early January. Players will head back to South Africa for two more competitions, the BMW SA Open and the Joburg Open, Both staged in Johannesburg.
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