Gareth Maybin fired a costly 75 to finish tied 38th as former Walker Cup player Andy Sullivan claimed the South African Open after a playoff with overnight leader Charl Schwartzel.
Maybin made just one birdie on the final day, slipping 18 spots down the leaderboard and picking up just €6,900 (points) in his first event of 2015. Scores
It was an entirely different day for 28-year old Sullivan, a member of the victorious 2011 Walker Cup side with Alan Dunbar and Paul Cutler, who hit a spectacular approach to 12 feet from trees on the first exta hole and sank the putt to win his maiden European Tour title.
“Golf is a funny game and things like this happen," Sullivan said after beating Schwartzel, who blew a five-shot lead in the final round at Glendower Golf Club.
"It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I didn’t expect to have a chance to win it and to take it in my first go is an unbelievable feeling that I’ll cherish for a long, long time."
Sullivan shot a 67 to set the target at 11 under and then watched as Schwartzel unravelled with a double bogey at the 16th and a bogey at the 17th condemning him to a 74 and a playoff.
Sullivan’s drive on the first sudden-death hole found the left rough behind a tree, but he played the shot of the tournament to 12 feet and then sank the putt to become the 63rd winner of the South African Open Championship.
“Unfortunately the tree was right in front of me, so I had to cut a little nine iron around it. With everything on the line and with all the pressure it was without a doubt one of the best shots I’ve ever hit. It was an all or nothing shot that came off,” he said.
It was deja vu for Schwartzel, who led by one going into the final round last year but ended up tied for fourth.
“Pretty much lost for words right now," the South African said. "I played fairly decently but struggled with the driver today. Andy hit an incredible shot and I take my hat off to him."
Sullivan, who is only the second English winner in the event’s 112-year history, began the day seven shots back but had just 24 putts in round featuring four birdies, one bogey and an eagle two at the 407-yard 12th.
“You’ve got to do special things to win a tournament and to have 24 putts on the last day is definitely an example," he said “To find out I was in a playoff was quite a shock, because I didn’t expect it.
"I was reflecting on my week and happy with the start, then suddenly I had to get back into golf mode. You never forget your first win and this will live long in the memory."
Fellow Englishman Lee Slattery carded a final round of 69 to take up sole third on 10-under-par, while two-time Alfred Dunhill Championship winner Pablo Martin Benavides finished in sole fourth on nine-under.