Matt Ford hopes Africa Open display will help him keep card
Last Updated: 08/03/15 4:56pm
Matt Ford celebrated the biggest pay-day of his career at the Africa Open and hopes his performance will go a long way towards helping him retain his European Tour card.
The Englishman was close to spending the winter working for the Royal Mail as he headed for the Qualifying School last November, but he reached the final stage thanks to a superb 62 and then finished fourth after six gruelling rounds at PGA Catalunya.
The 36-year-old made the cut in three of his five starts prior to arriving at East London, where four excellent sub-70 rounds earned him outright second place behind runaway winner Trevor Fisher Jnr.
Ford trailed the South African by just one shot after eight holes on the final day, but he bogeyed the ninth as Fisher birdied and his five-under 67 left him five shots behind the champion.
Trevor was 17 under for his last two rounds so it was going to take something special to beat it
"It's my best finish on tour and my biggest cheque by some way so I'm very happy," said Ford, who banked over 120,000 euros for his efforts.
"It's a big chunk (towards keeping my card) that's hopefully going to make a big difference at the end of the season. If I can keep playing like that hopefully everything will be good.
"I had a couple of missed putts here and there and didn't quite strike it as well as I would have liked down the last nine holes, but Trevor was 17 under for his last two rounds so it was going to take something special to beat it.
"I finished second by three shots so I obviously played some good golf this week, but he has just played a bit better."
Fisher's win was his maiden European Tour title and his ninth on the Sunshine Tour, and he was delighted to hold off the challenge of "British bulldog" Ford down the stretch.
The 35-year-old followed up Saturday's 63 with a final-day 64 and birdied three of the final four holes to close out an impressive victory on home soil.
"I made birdie on 16 and knew I had a five-shot lead and it would have been very naughty of me to lose that lead," said Fisher, who admitted the two-shot swing at the ninth was the turning point.
"Matt's a little British bulldog. He just sank putts and I thought 'Jeez, I'm not going to get away from this guy'. He made birdie, I made birdie so it was quite tough and then on nine I made a great birdie and he made a five and that was where it turned around for me and I knew I just had to keep my head up and keep going.
"It's amazing, I can't believe it. It's been a long time coming. I've been a pro for a long time. It's really been tough, I've gone to many tour schools and it's such a tough week. If you don't play well that week you don't get your card. It's amazing - everything worked out well this week, the putts fell and I'm very grateful.
"I played well. It's always a bit nervewracking leading, you always try not to think about the result but I think I did a good job today of staying in the moment. I was nervous the last few holes but I think that's natural. It was a
great day, I played well, everything worked out well and the putter was amazing.
"I think it's written in the stars; if you can get out of your own way you can achieve a lot of things. Everyone has to keep trying and keep working."