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Strong finish helps Sterne claim Johannesburg Open in playoff

1/13/2008 - Golf Richard Sterne

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- South African Richard Sterne needed two holes of a sudden-death playoff to win the
co-sanctioned European Tour/Sunshine Tour Johannesburg Open on Sunday.

Sterne fired a 6-under 65 on Sunday to reach the playoff with compatriot Garth Mulroy and Sweden's
Magnus Carlsson at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf
Club.

That trio overtook third-round leader Mark Murless, who will
blame putting mistakes for wasting a two-shot lead and finishing
in a tie for fifth at 9-under par after a 73. Northern
Irishman Darren Clarke finished with a 68 to take fourth.

Sterne survived hitting into a fairway bunker on the first
playoff hole by cajoling a brilliant 4-iron on to the
green on the par-5 18th. All three players birdied the hole.

Mulroy and Carlsson hit into the fairway bunker when they
returned to the 18th tee and were unable to match Sterne's
birdie.

"The bunker shot was pretty impressive, even if I say so
myself," Sterne said. "When I hit the ball I knew it was
perfect.

"The shot was on and because it was a playoff I had to go
for it, even though it was 50/50."

The 26-year-old Sterne had raced through the last nine holes
in 31 strokes, finishing with birdies on the last two holes to
catch up with the leaders.

"It was a tough day and it took a lot out of me. I haven't
felt great the last couple of days and I surprised myself
today," he added. "It was close and it needed some special
things."

Mulroy was alone in the lead with two holes to play after a
birdie on the par-3 16th hole, but could only collect pars
on the last two holes.

Carlsson, like Sterne, birdied the 17th and 18th holes to
get in the playoff.