Home favourite Brandon Stone claimed his second European Tour title in style with a seven shot victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
The South African produced a closing 67 at Leopard Creek Country Club to finish the week on 22 under par and secure his second trophy of the calendar year after winning January’s BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni.
Richard Sterne finished alone in second on 15 under after posting a bogey-free 67 in his final round, while Belgium’s Thomas Detry was two strokes further back in third.
Stone began the day three shots clear of the chasing pack, but he had company at the top of the leaderboard early on Sunday after Charl Schwartzel – a four-time winner of this event – notched three birdies in his opening six holes to join his countryman on 17 under.
But, after safely parring his first five holes, Stone made a gain at the sixth to regain the outright lead.
And with Schwartzel dropping a shot at the seventh and Stone rolling in his 15 foot birdie putt at the same hole, the 23 year old’s lead was back to three strokes.
Stone carded a bogey at the eighth to slip back to 18 under, but bounced back in style, holing his bunker shot at the tenth to make his third birdie of the day.
He added another birdie at the 11th before saving par at the next to keep the momentum going.
Stone then made further gains at the 13th and 14th to get to 22 under and open up a six-shot gap.
And when Schwartzel carded a triple bogey at the long 15th, Stone found himself seven strokes ahead of nearest challenger Sterne.
Stone dropped his second shot of the day at the 17th before finishing with a birdie at the last to move to 22 under.
Stone was delighted to start the new season with a win. He said: “To get this win before Christmas is obviously great but more importantly it gets me a good start on the Race to Dubai.
“Obviously I finished 50th this year and I want to build on that and this is the perfect stepping stone to do that.
“On the front nine, I was tied for the lead at one stage. But I knew my game plan was to try to get maybe one or two under par through the turn and try to score on the back nine.
“That was the game plan I set myself on Thursday and that was the game plan I was going to stick to today.
“I knew I could score and I holed some great putts at the first three holes on that back nine which really got the momentum going.
“I just played some incredible golf the whole week to be fair.
“I think my ball striking this week was superb from the first hole to the last.
“That score that I shot this week – 22 under par around here is not a simple task – to do that is obviously quite something.”
Sterne made a strong start to his final round, picking up shots at the first and third on his way to covering the front nine in 33.
The 35 year old then made three further gains on the back nine to jump up to second.