European Tour: 4 Things We Learned at the Nedbank Golf Challenge

December 8, 2014

England’s Danny Willett overtook his countrymen Luke Donald and Ross Fisher to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa by four shots.

Willett began the final day one behind former World Number 1 Luke Donald, but he quickly found himself out in front as he birdied three of his first five holes, while Donald was two-over-par for the same stretch. Willett carded six birdies and no bogeys in a closing 66. He finished on a four-round total of 18-under-par, four better than Ross Fisher. Luke Donald was two shots further back in third after a final round of 73.

“I’ve played good golf down here in South Africa before,” Willett said. “I love the place, love the people, everything about it is great. It’s been a truly fun test of golf.”

Four things we learned at the Nedbank Golf Challenge:

1 – It was a second European Tour victory for Danny Willett. The 27-year-old won the BMW International Open back in 2012. This was the Englishman’s biggest payday though – he collected €864,975 for the win. That means he takes a sizeable early lead in the 2015 Race to Dubai. In fact, with this one cheque, Willett earned only €150,000 less than he picked up in the entire 2014 season. He has climbed to 56th spot on the Official World Golf Ranking.

(Related: Danny Willett iron-play interview)

2 – Despite a disappointing final day, Luke Donald could take solace from his first three rounds. It looks as though the Englishman, who celebrated his 37th birthday on Sunday, is returning to something like the form that saw him reach the summit of the World Golf Rankings back in 2011. “It’s nice to put myself back in position,” he said. “I could have played a bit better but I still would have had to shoot five under just to tie with Danny. He’s a deserved winner.”

(Related: Luke Donald: how to use your weight in the golf swing)

3 – Although there was some superb scoring by those at the top of the board, it wasn’t plain sailing for all those in the field of 30. Home player Danie Van Tonder finished in last place, a full 31 shots behind Willett. Alexander Levy of France (above) was in contention after two rounds. But weekend scores of 76 and 78 saw him tumble down the table to finish in a tie for 21st. Levy had particular issues with the par-5 ninth in the final round where he racked up a 10!

4 – The 2015 Race to Dubai has started just two weeks after the 2014 edition was completed. Danny Willett has established an impressive lead on the standings. Smaller prize funds in the next few events means it will be well into 2015 proper, and the circuit’s “Desert Swing” before anybody will have a chance to catch the Englishman at the top of the pile.

(Related: George O’Grady to step down as European Tour Chief Executive)