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Bradford Vaughan Cruises to Eight-Shot Victory

By the time Bradford Vaughan had completed his crushing eight-shot victory in the Investec Royal Swazi Sun Open on Sunday, the Fat Lady so often associated with such things had long done her singing, packed her bags and headed for home.
In fact, her act was over the minute Vaughan recorded back-to-back birdies at the second and third holes to begin a final-round charge that would end with him at 25-under par 263. The Vanderbijlpark professional played the aggressive golf he was determined to do on the final day, securing his first major victory with a round of eight-under par 64.
Vaughan has won on the winter section of the Sunshine Tour, the last of which was victory in the 1999 Royal Swazi Sun Classic at this same Royal Swazi Sun course. But this is his maiden victory on the more lucrative summer leg of the Tour, and the biggest winning margin recorded this summer.
Trevor Immelman and England's Mark Hilton shared second place on 17-under par 271, with respective rounds of 65 and 69. And then there was the irony of Vaughan's younger brother, Jason, propping up the field at 11-over par 299, making for the unique occurrence of one brother winning the tournament and the other finishing last.
'I never thought of it that way,' said the victorious Vaughan, who kept all his thoughts focused solely on winning the tournament.
'I generally try not to think too much, because it can be bad for me. But the one thing I had in my mind at the start of the day was to go out there and attack.' Vaughan started the final round three strokes clear at 17-under par.
After seven holes, he was four-under for the day and in exactly the position he wanted to be, lying at 21-under par for the tournament. 'I knew that if I could get to 20-under for the tournament with nine holes to play, then I would have at least a three-shot lead or more.'
Hilton closed to within four shots of Vaughan at one stage on the front nine. But it was playing partner Hennie Otto, five adrift after eight holes, whom Vaughan was most concerned about. 'Hennie was going along well and he was the only one I thought could catch me,' Vaughan said.
But at the par-four ninth, Otto dunked his approach into the water guarding the green and went on to make a triple-bogey seven. 'After that he lost it a bit and I knew I just had to focus on hitting the ball well and I would be okay.'
Vaughan's ball striking was the most pleasing aspect of his victory. 'It's nice to see what I can do when I hit the ball well for four straight rounds. In the past, I've always had one round where I don't hit it well, and that usually costs me,' he said after finishing the week with rounds of 67, 67, 65 and 64.
The win also enabled Vaughan to break into the top three on the Sunshine Tour's Order of Merit, overtaking Trevor Immelman. Vaughan is roughly R3,000 adrift of second-placed Roger Wessels, while Mark McNulty is the runaway leader and a certainty to claim a record eighth Order of Merit title.
Next week's Tour Championship is the final event on the 2000/2001 season, offering a first prize of over R300,000. The incentive for a top two finish on the Order of Merit is a place in the field for this year's Open Championship at Royal Lytham, while the top three are also guaranteed an invite to the lucrative American Express World Golf Championship.