Joburg Open: South Africa's Richard Sterne targets return to the majors
South African Richard Sterne targets a return to playing in the majors after winning the Johannesburg Open on Sunday.
Last Updated: 11/02/13 9:38am
The 31-year-old, who missed most of the 2010 and 2011 campaigns because of a form of arthritis in his back, sank eight birdies in his closing 64 to coast to victory at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club, seven shots ahead of compatriot Charl Schwartzel.
The victory moves Sterne to the top of The Race to Dubai with 450,053 Euros (£380,602).
"It was a pretty special day, I played really good golf all week," Sterne said at the presentation of the trophy. "I only had one bogey all week and that was key to scoring well.
"It's a big year for me hopefully, especially after such a nice start. I hope to get back into the majors. That's where I want to be playing and competing on that stage."
Sterne, who finished second in the Dubai Desert Classic last weekend, won this tournament in 2008 but had not won on the European Tour since 2009.
He admitted he feared he may not play again after his injury woes but the success of his fellow South Africans motivated him to battle on.
"It crossed my mind a few times," he said. "I didn't think I was going to be out for so long but six months became a year, then almost two at the end of the day.
"The only thing that kept me going was all the other South Africans, they kept winning lots of events and I thought to myself if they can do it, so can I."
Sterne went into the final round tied on 19 under par with compatriot Trevor Fisher Jnr, but the latter carded a disappointing 73 to finish in tied-sixth position.
Schwartzel's 66 ensured he finished second while Chile's Felipe Aguilar (67), Portugal's Ricardo Santos (64) and George Coetzee of South Africa (67) joint third.
The 2013 Johannesburg Open is Sterne's sixth European Tour victory and moves him into the top 60 in the world rankings ahead of the WGC-Accenture Match Play championship in Arizona starting on 20 February.