lee westwood
AFP PHOTO

Former world number one Lee Westwood snatched his first European Tour title in over four years by overhauling Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen with a superb final-round 64 to win a third Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City on Sunday.

The 45-year-old Englishman finished the event on 15 under par, three strokes clear of overnight leader Garcia, to claim his first win on either of the two major tours since the Malaysian Open in 2014.

“That is what sport is all about,” said Westwood, who took his career Sun City winnings past $5 million after becoming the oldest champion at the tournament with his third title at the venue.

“It was great to win again after four years, and at 45 years old you are never sure if you will taste victory again and you don’t know how long you will go on.

“But today showed I have still got it mentally, it was a great performance. I put the pressure on, they had to try and make birdies and they ended up making mistakes.”

It was a tight three-way battle with Garcia, Oosthuizen and Westwood tied for the lead at 12-under as the final three-ball finished the 12th hole.

But South African Oosthuizen made a costly bogey on the 15th hole as Westwood, who had his girlfriend Helen Storey caddying for him, closed out a stunning eight-under round.

“I was three behind after the third round, knew I had to make a fast start and eagled two,” Westwood said after becoming the first European to win three Nedbank titles following 2010 and 2011 triumphs.

“On the back nine, I just stuck to my game-plan and it was one of the best shots of my career for the birdie on 17 –- a seven-iron from 185 yards to 10 feet.

“Under pressure, I was able to turn the screw on my opponents.”

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy was never a serious contender and his closing 71 left him 14 shots adrift.

Westwood had birdied the 13th with a 12-foot putt from the fringe and then picked up another shot on the par-five 14th. When the Englishman collected back-to-back birdies on the daunting 16th and 17th holes, there was no coming back for his pursuers.

Although Oosthuizen also birdied 13 and 14, he bogeyed 15 as his downhill putt from just off the green ran 10 feet past the hole and he could not sink the par putt coming back.

Garcia, who led for three rounds, had his moments, like an approach from 154 yards to two feet for birdie on the sixth, and he narrowly missed a hole-in-one at the 12th.

But he could not match the consistent brilliance of Westwood.