Golf-Van Tonder sinks birdie putt to win South African Open

FILE PHOTO: Golf - The 149th Open Championship - Royal St George's, Sandwich, Britain - July 17, 2021 South Africa's Daniel van Tonder in action during the third round REUTERS/Lee Smith

SUN CITY, South Africa (Reuters) - Daniel van Tonder sunk a birdie putt on the last hole to win the South African Open on Sunday as he held off a late charge from home compatriot Oliver Bekker.

The 30-year-old Van Tonder made eight birdies in a final- round 65 to finish 16 under par with a total of 272, one shot ahead of Bekker.

Bekker, the halfway leader at the Gary Player Country Club, finished with a round of 66, fighting back into contention over the closing holes before Van Tonder’s victory putt ended his hopes of a playoff.

Three birdies in his final three holes secured third place for Hennie du Plessis who ended on 12 under.

The tournament was stripped of its status as a European Tour event last week with the discovery of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and the subsequent travel ban on the region, which led to the mass withdrawal of foreign players.

The South African Open, hosted at Sun City this year, is among the oldest open golf championships.

First played in 1903, it is the highlight of the Southern Africa-based Sunshine Tour and has been co-sanctioned by the European Tour since 1997.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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