Trevor Fisher Junior cruised to victory by five strokes in the Africa Open on Sunday, a brand of compelling, positive and precise golf netting him nine birdies in a fabulous eight-under-par 64 at East London Golf Club.
Fisher Junior’s victory maintained South Africa’s stranglehold on the tournament, the trophy staying at home for the eighth successive year as Englishman Matt Ford, who shot a worthy five-under-par 67, was kept in second place by the sheer brilliance of the winner.
“I only had three bogeys for the week which is quite an achievement, that’s how you win tournaments by keeping bogeys off your card. My mindset was great, I didn’t let anything faze me, and I hit my long irons very well. All you want to do is give yourself a chance,” Fisher Junior said after a remarkable round that took his weekend tally to 17-under-par after a 63 on the third day.
It was the 129th South African triumph on the European Tour, which will now have a new – and very popular, judging by all the congratulatory messages on social media – member as the victory gave Fisher Junior the card he has long been striving for.
Ford, who was in the lead for the first two rounds, did little wrong as he also went in search of his maiden European Tour win, with a bogey on the ninth, when he missed a six-footer for par, the only blemish on his card.
The European Tour rookie made birdies at the first and third holes, but these were matched by Fisher.
The Modderfontein golfer’s only dropped shot came at the short par-four fifth, when he was short of the green with his approach after his tee-shot stopped under the lip of the fairway bunker just before the crest of the hill. From there he three-putted, but he rebounded with birdies at the sixth and seventh holes, before making an excellent par save on eight when his drive was way left.
“I don’t want to define myself through my golf, so I tried to be myself whether I’d played a good shot or a bad shot, just be a happy guy. I actually felt very comfortable out there, although I was a bit nervous towards the end,” Fisher Junior said when explaining how he brushed off the adversities that inevitably come in a final round.
The back 10 at East London Golf Club features a zoo-full of wildlife that is astonishingly tame – including Nyala, Impala and Blue Duiker – and Fisher Junior has tamed the second half of the old-style course throughout the week, not dropping a single shot in his four rounds coming in.
The back 10 starts at the ninth at East London Golf Club and this was the key hole in deciding the Africa Open.
Fisher Junior, who was firing his long-irons at the flags with superb precision, stuck a four-iron 10 feet from the flag and drained the birdie putt; Ford made bogey after missing a six-footer for par.
“The ninth-hole was a nice swing, I was suddenly three ahead. I hit a two-iron off the tee and then the four-iron was probably my shot of the week,” Fisher Junior said.
Last year’s Chase to the Investec Cup champion then made swift work of the last nine holes, picking up four more birdies for an astonishingly easy win.
Fisher Junior said it was not the first time he has gone really low on this coastal links-type course.
“A few years ago I went seven-under and seven-under here to lead after the first two rounds, but Charl Schwartzel won. This year I thought it was my time and I had confidence because I’ve done it before on this course,” he said.
Third place was shared by two Spaniards – Eduardo de la Riva and Jorge Campillo – and Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen, who all shot 66s to finish on 16-under, while John Parry and Jaco van Zyl shared sixth on 14-under.
Van Zyl had started the day four strokes behind Fisher Junior, and also had high hopes of securing his first European Tour win. But he endured a mediocre day, especially with the putter, and could only post a two-under-par 70.
For Fisher Junior, the father of two daughters, the victory brings with it a European Tour exemption until the end of 2016.
“I’ve tried so hard to get that European Tour card, for so many years. Obviously it’s a massive step for my career because that’s where all South African golfers want to be,” Fisher Junior said.
Even more success and glory could lie ahead for the ever-smiling golfer because the Investec Cup finale, with its R3.5 million bonus pool prize for the winner, is less than two weeks away and Fisher Junior is in pole position to win one of the biggest prizes in South African golf once again.