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Otto holds nerve to win South African Open

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JOHANNESBURG – Hennie Otto kept his nerve to par the 18th hole for a one-stroke victory over Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger at the South African Open on Sunday.

Home favorite Otto finished with an even-par 72 for a 14-under total of 274 to edge out Wiesberger and claim his second European Tour title in 222 events.

Wiesberger made his final-round charge with five birdies and a bogey in a 4-under 68 to move to 13-under for the tournament at the Serengeti course.

After wobbling with bogeys at Nos. 13, 15 and 16, overnight leader Ottobirdied the 17th and held his nerve on the last for his first tour win since the Italian Open in 2008.

“The first win is always the nicest win,” said Otto, who grew up in nearby eastern Johannesburg. “But this one makes it special because it’s our national open. You dream of these things … you must enjoy it.

“The names that are on there (the trophy). You can be proud of it.”

Retief Goosen ended with a 73 for a share of sixth place at 10-under, while defending champion Ernie Els had three double bogeys in his 79 to crash to a tie for 69th at 5-over.

England’s Richard McEvoy finished with a 4-under 68 to tie for third alongside home players Ockie Strydom (69) and Thomas Aiken (72) at 11-under, two back from Wiesberger and three behind Otto.

Searching for a third South African Open title, Goosen managed just two birdies and three bogeys in his final round to slip from a tie for second after the third round.

He finished alongside Sweden’s Magnus Carlsson (73) and another South African, Trevor Fisher Jr., on 10-under.

Els followed up his 76 on Saturday with a 7-over-par 79 – the day’s worst round – on Sunday.

The five-time South African Open winner and 2010 champion started with a double-bogey six on No. 1 and had three dropped shots alongside his three double-bogeys.

Otto started the final round three clear but had to ride a nervous back nine where three bogeys in four holes from No. 13 dragged him back to 13-under and level with Wiesberger, who had already finished.

But Otto recovered from blasting over the green and then fluffing his chip on No. 16 to pick up a crucial birdie next hole that gave him the lead again.

“I just got anxious,” he said. “I hit some good putts that didn’t go in. Even my caddie said to me ‘take it easy, we will make it.”’

The 35-year-old Otto won $210,000, which moved him into the top 60 in the Race to Dubai and qualified him for the season-ending Dubai World Championship.

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