Fichardt's victory another win for South African golf
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2003 Qatar Masters | Wrap | 17 Mar 2003
The strength of South African golf was on display again this week when two of their lesser-known players fought out the finish of the Qatar Masters. Darren Fichardt secured his second win on the European Tour, having won in Brazil in 2001, although he has been a multiple winner in his homeland.
Fichardt’s win over James Kingston, ten years his senior, was hard fought with the result coming after a one hole sudden death playoff with Kingston. The last time Fichardt had been involved in a playoff was in Ireland last year at the Irish Open where he lost to Soren Hansen but a two putt birdie saw him though here toady.
The event was plagued by sand storms and of course the withdrawals forced by the pending war in the region but I’m not sure that is of any significance now to Fichardt, who at age 27, is on track to establish himself at the highest level of South African golf. With Els, Goosen and Immelman doing so well on the world stage and many others such as Rory Sabbatini close behind, the Republic really is proving to be one of the better golf producing nations of the world per capita.
Kingston will have been disappointed to have lost the playoff, especially when he had the opportunity to win the event outright at the last of the regulation holes, but a wayward drive cost him a chance of a birdie at the reachable par five. Kingston was a stalwart of the Asian PGA Tour until recently and, despite the playoff loss, now has the security of a card in Europe for the next twenty months or so.
Paul McGinley was third with David Howell, who seems to like golf in the desert (he won in Dubai in 1999), in outright fourth. Pre-tournament favourite Padraig Harrington rattled home with a last round 65 to grab 11th but it was all too late.
Australian Peter Fowler picked up a handy AUD$95,000 cheque for closing in equal fifth place and continuing a remarkable run for the 43-year-old.
Richard Green was tied for eighth with Ed Stedman and Steve Bowditch 41st. It was a costly weekend for Bowditch, who got the chance to play here this week because of his solid performance at the Tour school. He had began well with two rounds of 70 but a 74 and 78 at the weekend blew a great opportunity that he will find hard to come by again this season.
The European Tour now heads to Maidera Island in the Atlantic for the Maidera Island Open.