SUN CITY, South Africa — Martin Kaymer of Germany shot a 3-under 69 to earn his first title of 2012, holding on for a two-shot victory Sunday in rainy conditions at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Kaymer finished at 8-under 280, two ahead of Charl Schwartzel (69) of South Africa. Bill Haas of the United States was third after a 71.
Kaymer was in trouble twice toward the end, pulling his tee shoot deep into the rough on the par-5 No. 14. He blasted out and made a brilliant birdie. He bogeyed No. 15 to allow Schwartzel to get within one shot, but recovered through the last three holes to close out his first win since November 20, 2011.
Schwartzel’s bogey on No. 17 helped Kaymer.
“It was always tight. Charl played a great round of golf,” Kaymer said, adding he only felt comfortable once his par putt on 18 dropped in. “I was telling (my caddie) I need a win. I need a win in 2012.”
South African Louis Oosthuizen (74) was fourth. Two-time defending champion Lee Westwood’s run at Sun City ended with a 73, seven shots behind the winner.
The rest of the 12-man field were over par through four rounds at a tough Gary Player Country Club layout, where narrow fairways, stubborn rough, gusty winds and — on Sunday — steady rain made scoring consistently difficult. No one shot better than 69 all week.
Kaymer’s win was his first since the WGC HSBC Champions last year and earned him a $1.25 million check at the end of a memorable year, which included a special putt at the Ryder Cup.
“I will still never do a bigger putt in my life,” Kaymer said.
Westwood’s attempt to become the first player to win three straight Nedbank titles ended at the 14th hole, where the No. 6-ranked Englishman took two shots to get out of the rough, then found the bunker and missed a bogey putt to come away with a double-bogey 7.
Behind him, Paul Lawrie was sixth at 289, Francesco Molinari and Carl Pettersson were tied for seventh at 2 over and Peter Hanson was ninth at 3 over.
Nicolas Colsaerts, Justin Rose and Garth Mulroy were 10th, 11th, and 12th.