England’s Matthew Baldwin celebrated his 200th DP World Tour event by winning a maiden title as he cruised to a seven-shot victory at the SDC Championship in South Africa.
The 37-year-old began the day tied at the top of the leaderboard but made three birdies in the last four holes of his third round early on Sunday morning to take a four-shot advantage into round four.
And he kept his foot on the gas in the final round, stretching his lead to six strokes at the turn courtesy of three front-nine birdies, before recovering from his first bogey of the day at the 11th with gains on the 13th and 14th to finish the week on 18 under par.
Spaniard Adri Arnaus finished alone in second on 11 under after notching seven birdies and two bogeys in his closing 67, while Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson was in a five-way tie for third another shot back.
Baldwin has experienced a host of ups and downs on his journey to the winner’s circle.
Having graduated from the Challenge Tour in 2011, he enjoyed an impressive first three seasons on the DP World Tour before illness forced him to shut down his 2015 campaign in May – and he had two operations over that summer.
He lost his card in 2016 but was back for the 2018 season after coming through the qualifying school and would have been back in 2021 via the Challenge Tour but missed out after the categories were frozen due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A 19th-placed finish on last season’s Road to Mallorca now sees him in his seventh full season on the DP World Tour and he can finally call himself a champion.
Reflecting on his journey to this moment at the trophy presentation, Southport native Baldwin said: “I’m not 100 per cent sure what’s just happened! It’s been a tough few years, so obviously to get the win means absolutely everything.
“I can’t process it right now but it just means the world to me.
“It’s been windy all week, it’s that sort of golf course. Fortunately for me I’ve grown up playing in Southport at Hesketh and Royal Birkdale, so I’m pretty good in the wind and it’s worked out a treat for me.
“Obviously I’d like to thank St Francis Links, the golf course has been fantastic this week; the DP World Tour for putting on superb events, as do the Sunshine Tour – they always welcome us down here.”