Home favourite Darren Fichardt held his nerve to win the weather-affected Joburg Open and claim his fifth European Tour title.

The South African fired a birdie at the last in his third and final round to post a four-under-par 68 and finish one shot clear of nearest challengers Stuart Manley and Paul Waring.

Manley had set the clubhouse target on 14 under par courtesy of a third-successive round of 67, with Waring producing a closing 69 to join him in a share of second place.

By finishing in the top three, Fichardt, Manley and Waring all secured spots in this summer’s 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

The tournament was reduced to 54 holes after thunder, lightning and subsequent course flooding at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club forced play to be abandoned before the leaders had started their third rounds on Saturday afternoon.

There was another two-hour delay before play resumed on Sunday morning but South African Fichardt, who began his third round tied at the top of the leaderboard alongside Waring, started brightly when he finally teed off.

The 41 year old notched birdies at the first, sixth and eighth to get to 14 under.

Fichardt rolled in his six-foot birdie putt at the 12th to join Jacques Kruyswijk at the summit, but after his countryman carded a disappointing double bogey at the 14th, Fichardt saved par at the same hole to sit two shots clear of his nearest challengers.

Fichardt’s lead was cut to a single stroke when Waring and Manley picked up shots at the 16th and 18th respectively.

And he dropped into a share of the lead when he carded his only bogey of the day at the 17th after narrowly missing his tricky par putt.

But Fichardt bounced back with a close-range birdie at the last to return to 15 under and secure victory.

He said: “The form I have been having the last couple of months has been horrendous but I decided at the beginning of the year that I was going to play as many tournaments as I can and just get my game right. And yeah, it worked out.

“It’s good to win again.

“It’s just nice to see hard work paying off. It’s very nice!”

Manley began the day two shots behind co-leaders Waring and Fichardt but soon closed the gap after following up his gain at the first with three straight birdies from the fifth to get to 13 under.

The Welshman rolled in his ten-foot birdie putt at the tenth before a double bogey at the next saw him drop back to 12 under.

The 38 year old safely parred his next five holes before finishing his round with back-to-back birdies.

Waring made the perfect start to his third round, notching an eagle at the first to take the outright lead, before pulling off a good par save at the second.

After dropping a shot at the third to fall to 12 under, Waring fired his first birdie of the day at the fifth to head back to the top of the leaderboard.

The Englishman reached the turn in 34 after going birdie-bogey-birdie from the seventh before dropping another shot at the 12th.

A birdie at the 16th saw him move back to 14 under, and when Fichardt carded a bogey at the 17th, Waring was in a tie for the lead.

But his 12-foot birdie putt at the last narrowly missed the hole and Fichardt rolled in from close range to win.

James Morrison, Brandon Stone and Kruyswijk finished in a share of fourth place on 13 under.

Source: www.europeantour.com