Ross Fisher won the Tshwane Open on Sunday to end his victory drought, a final-round 70 giving him the win by three strokes over Michael Hoey and Danie van Tonder.
Here are 5 Things you need to know about the latest European Tour event.
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1. RETURN OF FISHER KING: Fisher won his first European Tour event since the 2010 Irish Open to bring his tally to five career victories. The Englishman will be hoping the win spurs him back to the upper echelons of the European Tour.
Rounds of 66, 65, 67 and 70 gave Fisher a 20-under-par total of 268, good enough for a three-shot victory over Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey and South Africa’s Danie van Tonder.
The Englishman posted his best European season in 2009, when he finished fourth on the money list. He also reached a career high of 17 on the official world golf ranking. The next season he earned his way into the 2010 European Ryder Cup team, winning two points out of four to help Europe to victory. Then his career seemed to go into reverse.
The long hitter entered the Tshwane Open ranked 82nd in the world, after having slumped to 157th in 2012.
Fisher tried to play the European and PGA Tours last year. He placed 40th on the European money list, but 161st on the PGA Tour and failed to keep his card. So he’s back concentrating on Europe this year.
As most European Tour insiders will attest, Fisher should be vying for more important titles than the relatively low key Tshwane event. His South African success might just be the spark he needs to start moving up the European and world orders, perhaps back to a Ryder Cup spot.
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2. DYSON FALLS SHORT: Purists will have welcomed Simon Dyson’s fall down the leaderboard during the last three rounds. The Englishman is on 18 months probation after being found guilty of knowingly breaking the rules in last year’s BMW Masters. He was handed a suspended two-month ban and fined £30,000.
Dyson opened the tournament with a 7-under-par 65 and was tied for the lead. Subsequent rounds of 68, 71 and 73 saw him finish 11-under-par and in joint 10th place.
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3. PHELAN EARNS TOP-10 FINISH: Kevin Phelan earned his best European Tour result with a joint-sixth finish. It should go a long way to helping him keep his card for the 2015 season.
The Irishman played in last year’s Walker Cup at the National Golf Links in Southampton, N.Y., winning two points out of three as Great Britain & Ireland lost the match to the United States.
The former University of North Florida player earned his European Tour card at last year’s Qualifying School. He played one of the shots of the week, hitting a 3-iron to six feet on the final hole and making the birdie putt to earn the 17th card.
Phelan has made a slow start to his rookie season. He began the 2014 campaign with a T24 finish in the Alfred Dunhill Championship to earn €15,300 but then missed his next four cuts.
The Irishman has proved he has the game to play on the bigger stages. He made the cut in last year’s US Open at Merion and then played the weekend in his professional debut in last year’s KLM Open.
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4. BRITISH-AM CHAMP MISSES CUT: Garrick Porteous didn’t set a good precedent for his Masters appearance when he returned rounds of 74 and 71 to miss the cut by four shots.
The former University of Tennessee player will attempt to do next month what very few British Amateur champions have ever done – play all four rounds in the Masters. Only two of the last 25 British Amateur winners have made the halfway cut at Augusta.
Needless to say, Porteous has a huge challenge on his hands. Missing the cut in South Africa didn’t help.
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5. THERE’S LONG AND THEN THERE’S . . .: . . . Really long. That certainly applied to the Els Club at Copperleaf. The par-72 layout measured 7,964 yards, the longest in European Tour history. Of course, it is situated at altitude which helps. However, it’s still a bomber’s course. No wonder the long hitting Fisher had a huge advantage