SUN CITY, South Africa — Danny Willett spoiled Luke Donald’s birthday with a final-round 66 to charge past his English compatriot and win the Nedbank Golf Challenge by four shots on Sunday.
Willett claimed his second European Tour title ahead of Ross Fisher (68), while overnight leader Donald slipped to third in an all-English top three at Sun City.
Willett had an impressive amateur career but had won just once on the tour — at the BMW International Open in 2012 — before his $1.25 million payday at the first event of the 2015 European season. The 27-year-old Willett made six birdies and no bogeys on the final day and finished with weekend rounds of 65 and 66 for an 18-under-par total of 270 at Gary Player Country Club.
“Just one of them weeks where the swing felt good and it came off,” said Willett, who had just three bogeys all week.
The former top-ranked Donald, seeking a first title in more than a year, couldn’t quite celebrate his 37th birthday in style and ended with a 73 with four bogeys. He was six shots behind Willett.
“A lot of positives,” Donald said. “It’s nice to put myself back in position. I could have played a bit better but I still would have had to shoot 5 under just to tie with Danny.”
Willett trailed Donald by one heading into the final round, but had three birdies in his first five holes on Sunday to surge ahead and he led to the end.
Willett’s chasers had a glimpse of hope when he missed the green at No. 14, leaving himself with a tricky chip over a bunker back to the hole. But the former top-ranked European amateur recovered so well that he still made birdie, and Fisher and Donald saw their hopes slip away.
Willett shoots to the top of the new European Order of Merit standings.
Behind Donald, Germany’s Marcel Siem was alone in fourth on 9 under, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat was fifth and Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez completed a solid weekend with back-to-back 69s for sixth.
Former No. 1s Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer — both former Sun City champions — finished 2 over and 4 over respectively, well off the pace.