|Dawie van der Walt|
FINISHING AFTER THREE ROUNDS, THE NELSON MANDELA Championship in Durban, South Africa, was short on holes but certainly not on meaning. A South African, Dawie van der Walt, captured the title during a week when his homeland and the world were celebrating the life and mourning the death of the tournament’s namesake, anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.
Wearing a black ribbon on his golf cap, Van der Walt shot a 66 in the final round to win the rain-shortened event by two shots. Tournament organizers adjusted the event schedule to make sure it ended on Saturday and not conflict with the state funeral of Mandela on the following day.
“It’s making you kind of part of history, winning the Nelson Mandela at this time when it’s sad for everyone and everyone’s mourning and tomorrow’s the big day,” Van der Walt told the Associated Press.
“It obviously means a lot and can be something that I can keep close to my heart forever.”
The spoils of victory will be a constant reminder for Van der Walt. The trophy has an image of Nelson Mandela surrounded by children. The 30-year-old also took home a painting that includes Mandela’s signature.
Added Van der Walt (at EuropeanTour.com): “I haven’t been in that good [of] form. I’ve been struggling with an injury, so this is almost overwhelming. To win the last event of the year is going to make Christmas a lot more fun.”
England’s Matthew Baldwin (68) and Spain’s Jorge Campillo (68) were joint second. South Africans Oliver Bekker, Jaco Ahlers, Branden Grace and Merrick Bremner finished in the top ten.
Learn more about Van der Walt at his site. A snippet:
Born: Paarl, South Africa
High School: Paarl Gymnasium
University: Lamar University (U.S.)
Education: BAAS degree
Weight: 250 lbs.
Interests: Rugby, Cricket