Australia’s Marcus Fraser won the Ballantine’s Championship today by four shots as a battling three-under-par 69 final round secured a wire-to-wire win and first victory in seven years.
The 31-year-old topped the leaderboard at 12 under par after dropping just two shots in three rounds of the weather-affected 54-hole tournament at Pinx Golf Club.
After erasing Fraser’s one-shot overnight lead at the turn Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin faded down the stretch and lost out on sole possession of second place after a par putt at the last lipped out and a level-par 72 dropped the 29-year-old back alongside Australia’s Brett Rumford (71).
Oliver Fisher (71) moved a step closer to reclaiming his card after posting a fifth consecutive top-10 finish. Five shots off the pace, he tied for fourth alongside Malaysian Open champion Noh Seung-yul (68).
"It's unbelievable, I don't know how I did that today. It has blown me away,'' said an emotional Fraser, who lost in a play-off to Rod Pampling at the Australian Masters at the end of 2008.
“I have had so many chances to win in seven years and you just don’t know if it is going to be your day, and it was. I just can’t believe it.
“The second win is harder than the first one, it has just been so long. I have had so many chances to win over the last seven years and I haven’t done it so to go out there and play how I did this week is a big lift.
“I led from day one and I don’t think I would have enough in me for a fourth round, but I don’t care. I have worked hard this week and over last few years to get back into a position where I should be winning golf tournaments and it is a big reward.”
Last year’s joint runner-up Robert-Jan Derksen (71), Welshman Jamie Donaldson (70), who finished fourth at last week’s Volvo China Open, and Singapore’s Mardan Mamat (72) finished tied for sixth at six under par.
Defending champion Thongchai Jaidee (75) and Argentina’s Tano Goya (75), who sat one shot adrift of Fraser heading into the final round, slipped down into a tie for ninth rounding out the top 10 alongside Mikko Ilonen (69), Niclas Fasth (71) and world number seven Ernie Els (74) a further shot off the pace.
Three-time major winner Els had moved ominously within a shot of Fraser and Maybin at the turn with three birdies, but the WGC-CA Championship winner played his back nine in five over par including a double bogey.
Fraser missed some close-range putts on the front nine yesterday, but he had no such troubles at the start of his third round with putts from inside six feet at one and four maintaining his one-shot lead early on the final day in bright but breezy conditions.
Maybin matched Fraser’s start to take over the chase from the struggling Thongchai and Goya before the 29-year-old joined the Australian at the top of the leaderboard with a superb approach into the ninth green setting up a simple tap-in birdie.
Fraser, playing in the final group behind Maybin, did have to battle to ensure the share of the halfway lead after holing a 15-foot par putt at the eighth after missing the green before conjuring up another par save a hole later after finding sand.
The Australian added a third birdie of the round at the 10th to regain the lead before again saving par a hole later with an eight-foot putt after missing the green.
Fraser, though, was suddenly handed a three-shot lead as Maybin began his trip home with two bogeys in three holes after hitting his approach into the bank bunker at the 12th green before two-putting from inside six feet.
Fraser missed an eight-foot chance to increase his lead at the 12th and Maybin took full advantage with a 20-foot putt at 13 reducing the lead to two.
But the Australian hit back with a superb tee shot to four feet at the par-three 14th and after Maybin overhit a par putt from all of two feet at the 16th, Fraser was handed a four-shot lead with three to play.
Fraser was again forced to battle for par at the 16th after missing the fairway off the tee and the green with his third, but made another solid up and down with a four-foot par putt maintaining the comfortable advantage with two holes remaining.
Fraser dropped only his second shot of the week at the last with a tap-in bogey but had already done enough to finally return to the winner’s circle.