Emotional Els does SA proud
Ernie Els birdied his final hole of the 2012 Open Championship to finish on seven-under-par 273 at Royal Lytham & St Annes and claim a one-shot victory over Australian Adam Scott.
Els came from six behind overnight to catch the faltering Aussie, and claim his fourth major at the age of 42, ten years since winning his last major.
Scott bogied the last four holes in a row, while The Big Easy played the back nine in a brilliant four under.
“I wanted to win very badly,” said an emotional Els after his victory.
“I really feel for him [Scott], but that's the nature of the beast and that's why you win and you lose. It was my time for some reason.
“I birdied 18 and then I stood on the putting green and basically just heard what happened.”
Els thanked the support team around, that helped get his belief back.
“A lot of people thought I'd never win, and I started believing this year. I had a lot of help from a great team. From my family to the professional people around me.”
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At his press conference, Els said the comeback victory was hard to describe.
“Amazing. I'm still numb. It still hasn't set in. It will probably take quite a few days because I haven't been in this position for 10 years, obviously, so it's just crazy, crazy, crazy getting here.”
Els said his new positive outlook is what got him the Claret Jug.
POWER OF POSITIVITY
“It's amazing this game, you know. You have a positive feel, you give yourself positive vibes, sometimes positive things happen. And I think I've been in such a negative mode for a while, and now that I'm starting to feel more positive, obviously things happen, especially on the back nine where I haven't really done the job.”
Els finished tied second in 1996 and tied third in 2001 at the same course, and rekindled the memories of previous years.
“To have hit the shots that I did on that back nine, I don't think I missed a shot, to be honest. I mean, the 16th, I went for the green, I pushed that, but the chip shot was good. I really hit the shots that I needed to hit.”
“And obviously, Lytham, I feel comfortable here. When you feel comfortable on the course, you can hit the shots, also. And I had a lot of help from the crowd,” he added.
Earlier, On the opening nine, Els got off to a slow start picking up bogies at the second and ninth holes to go out in two over par.
The 2002 Open champion then started to show his pedigree as he turned things around on the tenth. There he hit his approach to the par four to 10 feet, and confidently rolled in the putt for birdie.
At the 198 yard par three 12th hole Els hit a glorious iron shot to inside eight feet, where he again stroked in the putt to gain a stroke.
On the 14th Els again nailed a putt of around 10 feet to draw within three shots of Scott's lead.
Then it was on to the 72nd hole where Els found his place in history, again.
Of the other South Africans in the field on Sunday, Thomas Aiken put in a solid tied seventh finish on one under for the week with a final round 72.
2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen struggled after a good start, where he played the first seven holes in two under. After that point, he played the last eleven holes in five over including a double bogey at the last to sign for a 73.
Richard Sterne ended the week at five over in a tie for 39th with a final round 70. Retief Goosen and Garth Mulroy both finished nine over par in 64th position.
Young Branden Grace struggled to 79 on Sunday to end 12 over for the championship in share of 77th.