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Sterne earns Match Play berth with Joburg title

Richard Sterne
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Richard Sterne picked an ideal time to snap a four-year winless drought.

With his seven-shot victory at the Joburg Open, Sterne is expected to move into the top 60 when the latest world rankings are released Monday, making him eligible for the 64-man WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship regardless of what transpires Sunday at Pebble Beach.

Sterne, 31, last played in the Match Play in 2009, and the tournament seemed a pipe dream only two months ago, when he sat 155th in the rankings. His victory Sunday was his first since the 2009 South African Open.

“It’s a big year for me hopefully, especially after such a nice start,” he told reporters afterward. “I hope to get back into the majors – that’s where I want to be playing and competing on that stage.”

In South Africa, Sterne shot 63-65-68-64 for a comfortable, wire-to-wire victory over Charl Schwartzel and 27-under 260 total – a new tournament record and tied for second-best 72-hole score ever on the European circuit.