East London, South Africa – Darren Fichardt overcame a late stumble and finished with a 1-under 71 on Sunday to capture the title at the Africa Open.
Fichardt ended with a four-day total of 16-under-par 272 at the East London Golf Club to record his fourth career European Tour title.
"This is one of my favorite tournaments," said Fichardt. "The golf course is second to none -- you've got to hit a lot of knock-down shots and irons off the tee. I always enjoy coming here, and obviously winning the tournament makes the week especially enjoyable."
Third-round co-leader Jaco Van Zyl carded a 1-over 73 to finish in a tie with Gregory Bourdy (70) for second place two shots back at 14-under.
Garth Mulroy carded a 5-under 67 on Sunday to vault himself into sole possession of fourth place with a 13-under-par 275, while Andy Sullivan (68), Desvonde Botes (70), Mark Tullo (71) and Tjaart van der Walt (71) shared fifth place at 11-under.
Fichardt looked like he would cruise to the victory after a 20-foot birdie putt at the 13th dropped him four strokes clear of Van Zyl at minus-19.
The 37-year-old South African, however, stumbled to bogeys at the 14th, 16th and 17th to leave him just a stroke ahead of his opponent with one hole to play.
Van Zyl failed to take advantage of the opportunity by bogeying the 18th, while Fichardt recovered from a poor tee shot to close with a par and capture the victory.
"I started losing focus," Fichardt said. "I was four shots ahead and I started taking it for granted. I was putting unbelievable and then I missed a short putt at the 14th and thought 'what's going on here?'"
Three straight birdies from the 14th to the 16th brought Bourdy into a tie for second place with Van Zyl at minus-15, but he had his momentum halted with a bogey at the 17th and finished with a par to secure his second-place finish.
Fichardt and Van Zyl entered the day tied for the top spot at 15-under and traded birdies at the first before Van Zyl briefly went on top at the second when he rolled in a birdie putt from off the green.
Fichardt got that stroke back with a birdie at the third and later poured in a 20-foot birdie putt at the seventh to take a 1-stroke lead as Van Zyl strung together six straight pars.
Van Zyl then fell further behind as he bogeyed the ninth and 12th.
NOTES: Fichardt is the fourth straight South African to win this event, joining Charl Schwartzel (2010) and Louis Oosthuizen (2011 and 2012) ... Fichardt's victory will move him from 146th into the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking ... Fichardt previously had not finished better than 18th at this event ... Van Zyl was seeking his first career European Tour win.