Sullivan wins S.A. Open after Schwartzel collapse

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It didn’t take long to witness the first collapse of 2015.

Playing in his home country’s open, Charl Schwartzel coughed up a five-shot lead on the final day and then lost on the first playoff hole to Andy Sullivan at the European Tour’s South African Open.

Sullivan notched his first career title, punctuating the victory with a birdie after a miraculous punch shot under a tree to 12 feet. Schwartzel drove the ball wide right in the playoff and came up well short of the green, but hit a pitch shot to kick-in range for par.

Sullivan, you may recall, was the player who earned a trip to outer space last fall after a hole-in-one at the KLM Open. Fair to say, now he’s over the moon.

Memories of this one won’t be quite as kind for Schwartzel, who took a five-shot lead at the Euro Tour’s 2015 opener after rounds of 68-69-66. It all came undone Sunday, when despite an uneven start he sat at 2 under par for the day on the 14th hole. 

Staked to a four-shot lead, the 2011 Masters champion bogeyed the 14th, doubled the 16th and dropped another shot on 17. He managed a par on 18 just to sneak into the playoff with Sullivan, who closed with 67, including a back-nine 32. They finished at 11-under 277.

Schwartzel was searching for his first victory at his home open.