Lee Westwood. Picture: REUTERS
Lee Westwood. Picture: REUTERS

Lee Westwood hit one of the shots of his life en route to a final round 64 and a third Nedbank Golf Challenge title on Sunday.

The Englishman blazed his way around the Gary Player Country Club to finish 15-under for the tournament but could not quite match the 62 he carded in the third round here on his way to the title in 2011.

Westwood’s five birdies on the back nine came about the same time things started going south for Louis Oosthuizen as well as overnight leader Sergio Garcia. Westwood hit an amazing approach to the intimidating 17th green, which served to underline his class as his nearest rivals started to feel the heat.

"I hit one of the best shots of my career into 17 with a seven-iron from 183 to 10 feet. You don’t hit shots like that very often. It was a great round of golf. The wind was moving around a bit and I was looking at the pin positions and there were a few smelly, tough pin positions.

"I played a pretty flawless round of golf with hitting it into the right areas. There were only a couple of times when I was out of position, which is incredible around Sun City because it drags you out of position and it is intimidating enough off the tee."

Last week Westwood, who last won on the European Tour four years ago, was teased by the rake-like Haotong Li of
China about the size of his belly, but the 45-year-old stressed he still feels in great shape.

The pressure eventually got to Oosthuizen, who needed a miracle on the last. He spectacularly fell out of contention when he missed the fairway, way right. He then tried a miracle shot which required his ball to miss the lip of the adjacent cart path, somehow thread the trees in close proximity, before clearing the fairway, the lake and the slope up to a tucked away pin on the 18th green.

His ball did not make it past the first obstacle.

"I could have killed someone on that second shot," he said about the shot that hit the cart path lip and sped past him before coming to rest next to a makeshift stand. He recorded a double bogey six on the last, which dropped him to third behind Garcia.

"If I had a lead and screwed up then it would be a different story. I was outplayed really. I played good. I made a lot of birdies and I made a good run at it. Westwood played great. I was pushing hard. The putt I missed on 17 knocked the wind out of my sails," Oosthuizen said.

Apart from an opening round 64, Garcia adopted a conservative approach around the demanding course.

The big mover on the final morning was Li, but he ran out of steam in the closing holes and had to settle for a still impressive 65. England’s Chris Paisley carded eight birdies in his round of 67.

Westwood bagged the main prize and a cheque of $1.25m, which makes him the highest earner in the event’s history.