Darren Fichardt added his name to the rich history of South African golf when he won the prestigious Eye of Africa PGA Championship on Sunday, and on a day when the Sunshine Tour itself made history with its coverage of the countryâ€™s second-oldest professional golf tournament.
Fichardt beat Chileâ€™s Matias Calderon with a birdie on the third playoff hole after both finished regulation play tied for the lead on 20 under par at the Eye of Africa Signature Golf Estate.
â€œI have always wanted to win the Eye of Africa PGA Championship, and the way I won it was very special. To win in a playoff is always awesome, and then hitting a driver and five iron and making a good putt for birdie was very satisfying,â€ said Fichardt.
Fichardt now owns a place on a trophy that includes some of the biggest names in South African golf. And the Sunshine Tour made its own bit of history as it live-streamed the final round for the first time, with even Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits declaring on social media he was watching the final round on his laptop while in the FNB Stadium watching the rugby action at Vodacom Super Hero Sunday.
Fichardt went into the final round tied for the lead with Jacques Kruyswijk on 16 under, and Calderon four shots adrift of them.
But Calderon came surging through the field with a 64, and Fichardtâ€™s own 68 saw the title decided between these two. Kruyswijk took third place on 19 under par with a 69.
The victory was a timely boost for Fichardt, who admits the tribulations of having to return to the European Tour Qualifying School last year after losing his card took it out of him.
â€œI had a tough year last year and decided not to touch a club over December. I came out at the South African Open and was a bit rusty, and missed the cut by one. I was thinking I hope itâ€™s not going to be one of those years again. So to win the week after is awesome.
â€œItâ€™s fantastic playing at home and having that support. It can get very lonely on tour and itâ€™s great to hear people calling your name and supporting you.â€