Daniel Brooks buzzing after great start to European Tour

Echo: South African success — Daniel Brooks finished joint 11th at the Nelson Mandela Championship, which finished the day before the former South African present’s funeral on Sunday South African success — Daniel Brooks finished joint 11th at the Nelson Mandela Championship, which finished the day before the former South African present’s funeral on Sunday

DANIEL Brooks says he is delighted with his start to the season after claiming his biggest European Tour purse at the high-profile Nelson Mandela Championship in South Africa.

The 26-year-old from Basildon took home 15,157 euros as he finished tied 11th at Mount Edgecombe.

The Mill Hill Golf Club member was the leader heading into the final day but the title eventually went to home favourite Dawie van der Walt.

Brooks said: “I felt like I could win it but I had an early start of 3.40am before my final round and I was a bit lethargic.

“And I had some bad luck on the opening few holes and I could just not quite finish it off, which is a shame because scoring all around was not great on the final day.

“But it was interesting to play in because it was obviously a massive week in South Africa.

“And if someone had said to me at the start of the week I would finish 11th, I would have taken that.

“I would also have taken making three cuts in my first three events of the season because I was not even sure I would have a tour card a couple of months ago.

“So it’s nice to have a bit of money on that order of merit board and hopefully it’s a start I can build on now.”

Brooks is in 61st place in the early Race to Dubai rankings, in which the top 60 make the glittering end of season DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Van der Walt admitted to feeling overwhelmed as he held his nerve down the closing stretch to the Nelson Mandela Championship, which was given huge significance by the recent death of its namesake.

The 30-year-old South African shot a closing 66 to run out a two-shot winner on the day before Mandela’s funeral, the former President having passed away last week at the age of 95.

“It’s obviously really special, making you a part of history,” said van der Walt.

“Winning the Nelson Mandela Championship at this time, when it’s sad for everyone, everyone is mourning and tomorrow’s the big day, it means a lot and it’s something I can keep close to my heart forever.”

Van der Walt began the day by picking up a birdie on the final hole of his second round in an event shortened to 54 holes after heavy rain caused lengthy delays on the first three days.

That left him tied second going into the final round, three shots adrift of Brooks.

Van der Walt bogeyed the second after a swift turnaround, but Brooks dropped six shots in his first seven holes to blow the tournament wide open.

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