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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Fisher ends title drought

Published 02/03/2014 | 14:57

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Ross Fisher won his first European Tour title in almost four years in South Africa

England's Ross Fisher claimed his first European title in almost four years with a three-shot win at the Tshwane Open in South Africa.

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Fisher began the final round five strokes clear and held off the chasing pack with a last-day score of 70 to finish on 20 under.

The 33-year-old had to withstand a couple of challenges on a wet final day, but a long eagle putt on the par-five 15th all but snuffed out the danger.

Fisher had not won on the European Tour since the 2010 Irish Open and, after tumbling out of the world's top 50 during his title drought, has now thrust himself into contention for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles later this year.

Northern Irish playing partner Michael Hoey - who at one stage reduced Fisher's lead to a single stroke - and local hopeful Danie van Tonder finished in a tie for second place with Spain's Carlos del Moral a stroke further back.

Hoey moved to within touching distance with a birdie from 30 feet at the 11th, but a double bogey at the next stalled his progress.

Fisher's work was not done, however, as Van Tonder and Del Moral then made their moves and set up a potentially nervous finale, after the Englishman had dominated for the entire weekend at the 7,964-yard, Ernie Els-designed Copperleaf course - the longest in European Tour history.

As he stepped up to the 15th tee, Fisher's lead had been whittled down to two strokes by both Van Tonder and Del Moral.

Fisher had picked up just a single stroke for the round up until that point, but saved his best for when it counted as he reached the 15th green in two before holing a 30-foot eagle putt.

Careful pars at 16 and 17 ensured Fisher was able to walk up the 18th with victory assured and, while he finished with a bogey, a long-overdue win was secured for a player who has been as high as 17th in the world.

Victory leaves Fisher sitting 16th in the Ryder Cup standings and is set to lift him up to 52nd in the world rankings.

"I'm thrilled to get over the line," Fisher said.

"It was a testing day with the weather conditions and playing with Mike he put up a great challenge for me.

"I set a target of trying to go out there and shoot in the 60s and almost managed to do it. I had a little mishap on the last but I'm just glad to be standing here talking to you as champion."

Fisher admitted his eagle on the 15th had helped to settle any potential nerves.

"It's been pretty good to me this week (the 15th hole)," he said.

"There have been a couple of eagles, but that was a big putt there.

"I know I was only a couple ahead. To hit a nice shot there and have a good look at three and to see it drop - I think I went four shots clear with only three to play I knew I could coast in.

"There was a little wobble on a few of those holes and I managed to make a couple of good par-saves of 16 and 17.

"It would have been nice to shoot 69 but unfortunately I missed one on the last. I'm not going to complain."

His long putt on 15 typified a good week with the shortest stick and, after struggling on the greens in the past - Fisher welcomed the change.

"That's been an Achilles for many, many years," he said.

"For some reason this week I saw the lines in the greens and felt really comfortable on the greens all week.

"I'd love to know how much footage I holed this week because it was quite a lot."

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