Craig Howie caps solid start to Challenge Tour season with top-10 Fancourt finish

Peebles man Craig Howie has completed the Challenge Tour’s South African Swing sitting inside the top 10 in the second-tier circuit’s Road to Mallorca rankings.

Craig Howie in action during the final round of the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt Golf Estate in George, South Africa. Picture: Luke Walker/Getty Images.

The 26-year-old capped his promising start to the campaign as he secured a share of eighth spot in the Dimension Data Pro Am at Fancourt.

The effort came on the back of Howie tying for fifth in the season-opening Limpopo Championship then securing a share of 14th place in the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open.

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On the back of those consistent performances, Howie sits eighth in the early standings in his bid to become the latest young Scot to graduate from the Challenge Tour.

Howie, who is managed by Paul Lawrie, closed with rounds of 67 and 68 at Fancourt, signing for six birdies in his last-day salvo.

He finished with a 14-under-par 274 total to earn just under €7,500 and take his earnings for the season to around €14,000.

Home player Wilco Nienaber secured an emotional first professional win by overcoming Swede Henric Sturehed in a play-off at the third extra hole.

The duo tied on top on 19 under par, with Nienaber posting a closing seven-under 5, which included a birdie on the last hole.

Nienaber’s victory completes a clean sweep for local players in the European Challenge Tour’s South African Swing, which was co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour.

That followed other home wins for Brandon Stone, the 2018 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open champion, in the Limpopo Championship and JC Ritchie at the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open.

“I’m really excited,” said Nienaber. “I definitely forgot how it felt to win. I’m a little bit emotional, but I just know it’s the hard work I put in.

“It’s a special week. I wanted to win this event and I’ve done so. It was a little tougher than I wanted it to be, but I pulled it through in the end.”

Ewen Ferguson, who tied for third in Cape Town but then missed the cut at Fancourt, slipped 16 spots to 21st in the rankings as the circuit heads to Sweden for back-to-back events.

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