Els wins 100th SA Open Champs in fitting style

2010-12-20 00:00

DURBAN — The rainbow that peeked out from the clouds as Ernie Els received the trophy for winning the 100th South African Open Championship yesterday heralded a fitting end to a dramatic final day at Durban Country Club.

He took his fifth national title in the face of a spectacular final charge by his old rival, Retief Goosen, eventually winning by one stroke as the sun broke through on the 18th green as their battle drew to a close.

He finished on 25 under par, an extraordinary score even with the fourth hole of one of the great South African golf courses out of commission for the final 36 holes after a downpour in the early hours of yesterday morning had left the green waterlogged.

The players were scheduled to play 36 holes after most of the first day was rained off, and ended up playing 34.

And when Els eagled the 14th after he had rifled another towering iron shot into the heart of the green, he had opened up a four-shot advantage over Goosen, who made birdie there.

But Els knew what was coming: “We have played against each other since we were kids, and I know he’s a very good player,” he said.

Goosen lived up to Els’s evaluation by making three consecutive birdies on 16, 17 and 18, reviving memories of the two SA Open titles he won.

“I was very nervous standing on the 18th tee,” admitted Els. “That’s why I took five-wood there, because it’s a great finishing hole and the whole tournament can take a big swing right there.” Els put his tee shot in the rough to the left of the green. “I wanted to be right, because I knew I had a good chance of getting it up and down from there.”

In the end, he didn’t make birdie, but par was good enough after he and Goosen had underlined their class in front of appreciative fans.

Fittingly for the fans, Els and Goosen were chased home all the way by two representatives of the next generation of South Africa’s great golfers, open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

Further down in the field, Tim Clark closed with a level-par 69 to share ninth and close out the performances by South Africa’s “Big Five”.

South African amateur Dean O’Riley secured the Freddie Tait Trophy for the leading amateur after his six-under-par total.

Leading final scores (RSA unless specified):

257 -Ernie Els 65 65 64 63

258 -Retief Goosen 64 68 63 63

261 -Louis Oosthuizen 67 67 64 63

264 -Charl Schwartzel 65 69 66 65

266 -Robert Rock (ENG) 69 69 64 64, Romain Wattel (FRA) 67 66 68 65

267 -Victor Riu (FRA) 68 68 65 66, Alexander Cejka (GER) 64 72 66 65

268 -Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 68 69 65 66, Robert Dinwiddie (ENG) 71 69 63 65, Tim Clark 70 67 65 66

 

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