Martin makes Euro Tour history

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Martin makes Euro Tour history

JOHANNESBURG - Spaniard Pablo Martin created history on Sunday by becoming the first golfer to win European Tour tournaments as both an amateur and a professional.

The 23-year-old native of Malaga held off a charge from South African Charl Schwartzel to finish with a 69 and claim a one-stroke victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Golf Club in Malalane. Martin, winner of the 2007 Estoril Open in Portugal before joining the paid ranks, compiled a four-round total of 271, 17-under-par on a course designed by South African legend Gary Player.

It all came down to a short putt on the par-five final hole, and the Spaniard - who led since the second round on Friday - took his time before calmly slotting the ball into the cup. After an opening-round 68, Martin fired a sizzling nine-under 63 to open a four-stroke lead at the halfway mark. Although he slipped to a 71 in the third, he was two in front entering the final 18 holes.

Former Dunhill winner Schwartzel closed with a 68 for a total of 272, two strokes better than Dane Anders Hansen, with defending champion Richard Sterne of South Africa among a group a further two shots adrift.

“It is an unreal feeling,” admitted Martin as he celebrated capturing the 158,500 euro ($232,600) first prize in an event co-sanctioned by the South African Sunshine Tour.

“I am so happy after winning this tournament at such a great course. There is so much emotion stacked up inside me after holding off Charl, who played unbelievably well on the final day,” Martin said. “Apart from my 63, partnering the great Ernie Els in the third round was a memory I shall always cherish. He is one of my heroes and a true gentleman of the game.”

Just two strokes behind the leader overnight, three-time major winner Els finished 10 off the pace after a closing 77 and surrendered a record of winning at least one event each year since 1990. Welshman Sion Bebb, who closed within one stroke of Martin after an eagle at the 13th, finished with a sextuple bogey 11 after being trapped by trees and hitting two balls into water surrounding the green.

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