American David Lipsky held his nerve during a tense final nine holes Sunday to end a 50-month title drought by winning the EPGA Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.
The 30-year-old from Los Angeles closed with a four-under-par 68 at Leopard Creek Country Club for a total of 274 and a two-shot victory over Scot David Drysdale, who carded a 67.
Overnight leader Scott Jamieson (72) of Scotland and Zander Lombard (69) of South Africa shared third place in the last 2018/2019 European Tour event of the year.
Lipsky, the first non-South African Dunhill champion since Spaniard Pablo Martin in 2010, achieved his only previous EPGA victory at the 2014 European Masters in Switzerland.
“My short game was a huge factor here,” he said after cautiously lifting the Dunhill trophy, one of the heaviest in professional golf.
“Throughout the tournament my chipping and putting were excellent on a tough course that I was playing for the first time.
“This is a beautiful part of the world, that I had heard so much about, and I plan to be back next year.”
Lipsky had a five-stroke lead after 11 holes slashed to just one by the 14th as Lombard carded five consecutive threes from the 10th.
But the title race took a decisive turn on the par-three 16th as Lombard twice found water from the tee and carded a triple-bogey six.
With the South African falling five behind Lipsky again, Drysdale became the new threat to the American as he birdied the final hole to take the clubhouse lead.
Lipsky teed off at the 18th knowing a par five would suffice and went one better with a brave second shot leading to a birdie.
A long drive created a dilemma for the American ranked 305 in the world: did he lay up his second and then chip over water or go for the green.
His bold approach paid off as his eight-iron second shot landed in the heart of the green and he two putted for a two-stroke victory.