Abery Captures Telkom PGA Championship

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Warren Abery claimed his third and most significant Sunshine Tour victory at the Telkom PGA Championship on Sunday, holding off a charging Charl Schwartzel with a closing 3-under-par 69.

The 31-year-old from Mount Edgecome Country Club negotiated a slippery two putt on the 72nd hole to finish at 15-under par, one shot clear of overnight leader Jaco Van Zyl and dunhill championship winner, Charl Schwartzel.
 
It was Aberys third victory on the Sunshine Tour, but unmistakably his biggest yet, with both the 1998 ABSA Bank Corporate Challenge and the 2001 Graceland Challenge featuring on the winter circuit.
 
I t hasnt really sunk in yet, said Abery at the press conference after his round. I mean, this is the Telkom PGA Championship, theres been a lot of great winners before me and I think it will start to hit home when I look at that list of players. This is going to open up a lot of doors for me.
 
Three successive birdies from the 10th hole after he turned in even par for the day took Abery into the lead and when he holed another from 40 feet on the 14th hole, it became his tournament to lose.
 
Scottish pair Doug McGuigan and Alan McLean, who broke Mark McNultys course record with a 62 on Saturday, both closed with 70s and finished the tournament in joint fourth at minus 12.
 
Louis Oosthuizen led the tournament midway through the day but crumbled over the closing holes with double bogies at the 15th and 17th holes for a closing 73 that dragged him into a share of ninth with Marc Cayeux.
 
While Oosthuizen was capitulating over the closing holes, Abery was flourishing one group behind him putting together a run of birdies that ultimately proved decisive.
 
I think those birdies on 10, 11 and 12 definitely won it for me, said Abery. And that putt on 14, I think that was the turning point.
 
Abery, who finished second at the dunhill championship, banked R277, 375 for his victory, increasing his seasons tally to R687, 516.61 and into fourth position on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.
 
I had R2, 000 to my name before the dunhill, but you never know whats around the corner in this game, said Abery. Finishing second there definitely helped a lot coming down the stretch today, but its also a lot easier to play well when youve got money in the bank!
 
Schwartzel used his share of second place to extend what was already an unassailable lead on the Order of Merit, Van Zyl vaulted from 21st to sixth.
 
Meanwhile, 17-year-old Matthew Kent finished birdie-eagle for a closing 68 that saw him finish in joint 12th, his best finish on the Sunshine Tour in three starts since he turned professional during the SAA Open in January.
 
Kent, who won the Compleat Golfer Amateur of the Year award at the beginning of the week, moved to 104th on the Order of Merit and in position to see him retain his card for next season.
 
The Sunshine Tour now heads to Country Club Johannesburg for the R2 million Vodacom Tour Championship, the last event on the 2004/05 schedule.