Els stuns Scott for 2nd Open title
Lytham St. Annes, England (Sports Network) - Ernie Els won the Open Championship on Sunday in a stunning final round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that saw Adam Scott bogey the last four holes to lose by one.
Scott held a 4-shot lead with four to play and bogeyed them all. Els drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th, then watched Scott miss an 8-foot par save at the last to give Els his fourth major title.
"First of all, I feel for my buddy Adam Scott," Els said in the first words out of his mouth at his trophy presentation. "Scotty, you're a great player, great friend of mine. We've had some great battles. I feel very fortunate. You're going to win many of these. You have too much talent."
Scott's collapse began with a missed 8-foot par putt at the 15th hole, then a short lip-out for par at 16.
His lead was still two, but Els hit a beautiful approach 15 feet left of the flag at 18. Els poured in the birdie try to post 7-under par as Scott was walking down the fairway at 17.
From the short grass at 17, Scott went long and left into a thick lie off the green. He hacked his third to 25 feet and that putt stayed above ground.
The two were tied and Scott drove into one of the many treacherous bunkers at 18. He had to go out sideways, hit the lip, but was in play. Scott hit a magnificent third 8 feet short of the cup and he had a chance to force a playoff.
But Scott's putt slid by left, and the comeback and collapse were complete.
"I'm just all numb at the moment. He's a great friend of mine," said Els. "Obviously we both wanted to win very badly for different reasons and I really feel for him. I was hoping at best playoff."
Els picked up his second Claret Jug after he won at Muirfield 11 years ago. He won the U.S. Open in both 1994 and 1997 and has now captured major titles in three different decades.
"It means I've been around a long time, a bit of perseverance here and there, especially the last couple of months," Els said on TV.
He shot a 2-under 68 on Sunday to finish at 7-under 273.
Scott, looking for his first major victory, had a 5-over 75 and missed a playoff by one tantalizing stroke.
"Sure, I'm very disappointed, but I felt like I played well this week," Scott said. "I was surprisingly calm the whole round. It came down to not making a couple putts. If I make either on 15 or 16, it's a very different position."
Tiger Woods was done in on Sunday by a disastrous triple bogey and shot a 3- over 73. He tied for third place with Brandt Snedeker, who carded a 4-over 74, at minus-3.
World No. 1 Luke Donald (69) and Graeme McDowell (75) tied for fifth at 2- under par.
Scott got off to the kind of start one would expect from someone who never led a major championship on Sunday. He blew a 4-foot par putt by the hole, but atoned for the error immediately after a sensational approach at No. 2 to 3 feet. Scott tapped in the birdie putt to get back to 11-under par.
Things got shaky again for Scott when his second at three found one of the 206 bunkers at Royal Lytham. He blasted out to 20 feet and missed the par putt. Scott went long and right with his tee ball at No. 5 and played his second to 12 feet. He holed the clutch par save to stay three in front.
Scott's lead sank to two over Snedeker when he landed in a bunker at six and could not get up and down.
It was at this point Scott's lead grew due to the mishaps of others.
First up was Woods.
At the sixth, his second plugged in a bunker on the lip. Instead of taking an unplayable, Woods tried a miracle shot and all he did was muscle into the lip and the ball went backwards. An awful lie forced Woods to play his fourth from his knees and all he could do was get it onto the green. From there, he 3- putted for a triple bogey.
He was done.
Snedeker, Woods' playing partner on Sunday, recorded back-to-back double bogeys at seven and eight.
He was done.
McDowell had some golden chances. He knocked it on the green in two at the par-5 seventh and lagged his eagle putt to 3 feet. The U.S. Open runner-up missed that putt, but got one back with a birdie at eight. McDowell bogeyed three in a row from the ninth.
He was done.
Scott was cruising, making pars and inching closer to that Claret Jug. A 12- foot birdie putt at the 14th appeared to seal the deal. He was four ahead of Els, but the Big Easy did what he had to do.
After a birdie of his own at 14, Els was at 6-under par. He parred 15 and went at the par-4 16th with a driver, but missed right. Els had an opening and chipped his second to 8 feet. He missed the putt and was off to 17.
Els had 30 feet for birdie and failed to convert. Scott was bringing him closer with his mishaps, but Els hammered his drive down the 18th fairway. He hit a punch shot to 15 feet and made it.
A few minutes later, and sadly at the expense of his friend, Els hoisted the Claret Jug once again.
It's been an interesting year for Els.
He tried like hell to get into the Masters field, but came up short, despite a pair of top-5 finishes in the weeks leading up to Augusta.
Els lost a playoff in New Orleans and had a decent chance at the U.S. Open. He finished ninth at Olympic Club, but now, Els is once again a major champion.
"It's the nature of the beast. That's why we are out here. You win, you lose and it was my time," said Els, whose last victory anywhere came at the 2011 South African Open Championship.
Nicolas Colsaerts (65) and Thomas Aiken (72) tied for seventh at minus-1.
NOTES: Els now has 19 PGA Tour titles and 27 on the European Tour...He became the 16th different major winner in the last 16 stagings...In the last two Opens at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Els had tied for second and shared third...Rory McIlroy had a 3-over 73 and shared 60th at plus-8.
07/22 14:38:55 ET