Lumbres, France – Darren Fichardt shot a 2-over 73 Sunday, but it was still more than enough for him to hold on for a three-stroke victory at the Saint Omer Open.
Fichardt finished the tournament at 5-under 279 at Aa Saint Omer Golf Club, and recorded his first European Tour victory since the 2003 Qatar Masters. It is the third career tour win for the 37-year-old.
"To win is awesome. The last four years I've had injuries and missed out at the qualifying school a couple of times, and you wonder if you'll ever make it back," Fichardt said. "So it was amazing to get my card last year back at Q school, and to win on my ninth start this season is a dream come true."
The South African carried a five-stroke advantage over Simon Wakefield into Sunday's final round, but Wakefield struggled to a 1-over 72 and couldn't take advantage of Fichardt's nearly birdie-free round.
As a result, Gary Lockerbie (69) took second at 2-under, while Wakefield finished alone in third at minus-1.
Charlie Ford (70), Adam Gee (72), Pelle Edberg (72) and Wil Besseling (73) shared fourth at 2-over 286.
With most of the game's best at Olympic Club for the U.S. Open this week, this event is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and European Challenge Tour.
Heading into Sunday, only Fichardt and Wakefield were under par, and even then, Fichardt was in a class by himself as he battled poor playing conditions.
His sizable advantage was briefly put into question early in his round. Wakefield had birdied one and three to reach minus-4, while Fichardt bogeyed three to dip to minus-6.
But Wakefield ceded all that gained ground with a double bogey at five. While the Englishman went on to birdie seven and eight, Fichardt birdied the eighth to get back to 7-under.
It was Fichardt's only birdie of the round, but considering how much difficulty other players encountered, he just needed to limit his losses to secure the win.
Fichardt was successful in doing so. As Wakefield carded four bogeys on the back nine, including three in a row from the 12th, Fichardt bogeyed just two holes.
"It was messy today," said Fichardt. "It definitely wasn't pretty. I was absolutely terrified and I was happy we didn't have to play any more holes."
Lockerbie turned in a good round, but got to minus-2 only because of birdies at 16 and 17.
NOTES: Fichardt went nine years, 123 days, as well as 147 European Tour events, between wins...Matthew Zions, the defending champion, carded a 6-over 77 and finished in a tie for 50th at plus-10...Fichardt earned 83,330 Euros for the victory...Next week, the European Tour heads to Germany for the BMW International Open, where Pablo Larrazabal is expected to defend his title.