Schwartzel defends Alfred Dunhill Championship title

Charl Schwartzel retained his title at the Alfred Dunhill Championship with a 4-under 68 Sunday for a four-shot win and his first European Tour victory in a year.

Schwartzel finished with a 17-under total of 271 at Leopard Creek in northern South Africa to secure his third Alfred Dunhill title. Richard Finch was second ahead of a three-way tie for third between Simon Dyson, Ross Fisher and Romain Wattel.

Schwartzel held the overnight lead and made four birdies in a bogey-free final round on a course where he has a history of success. The South African has four second-place finishes here to go with his now-record three titles. This was the former Masters champion’s second title on the European Tour since winning at Augusta National in 2011.

"This tournament has been very good to me," Schwartzel said. "I’ve had lots of seconds here as well. Probably for the rest of my golfing career this will always be a special one. I don’t think that will change."

After the victory, Schwartzel’s ninth career win on the European Tour, he now leads the tour’s 2014 Race to Dubai money list and returns to the top 20 in the world rankings.

The 29-year-old Schwartzel went the last 62 holes of the Alfred Dunhill without dropping a shot after a double bogey on No. 10 in his first round — his last slip. He birdied No. 5, No. 6, No. 8 and No. 13 in his final round for a comfortable win from England’s Finch, who finished on 13 under.

Finch opened with four birdies in his first nine playing alongside Schwartzel to challenge for the lead, but paid for a wayward tee shot with a bogey on No. 11 and then made a double-bogey six on No. 14 to effectively end his challenge after Schwartzel had birdied No. 13.

English pair Dyson and Fisher were tied alongside France’s Wattel seven shots behind Schwartzel, with Dyson finishing with a 67 to push up into a share of third.

Denmark’s Soren Hansen (71) was in sixth on 9 under while Zimbabwe’s PGA Tour player Brendon de Jonge finished with a two-over 74 to slip to a tie for 16th on 4 under, 13 strokes behind Schwartzel. Two-time major winner John Daly of the United States missed the cut at Leopard Creek in his second tournament back following right elbow surgery in July.