Sunday, July 22, 2012
Scott's slip leaves door Open for Els
By Justin Ray
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports/US Presswire
Ernie Els took advantage of four bogeys on the final four holes by then-leader Adam Scott
to win his fourth career Major title and second Open Championship.
Ten years ago yesterday, Ernie Els won his third major – a victory in a four-way playoff at the 2002 Open Championship to give him his first career Claret Jug.
After Adam Scott made his fourth straight bogey to finish Sunday's final round, Els wouldn’t need another playoff to get his second.
Els trailed Scott by six strokes entering the final round. That’s tied for the second-largest 54-hole deficit overcome by an Open champion (Padraig Harrington was down six in 2007, and Paul Lawrie was down 10 strokes in 1999).
Ernie Els made birdie on the 72nd hole in what proved to be the difference in a one-shot victory over Scott. With the win, Els becomes just the eighth player all-time to win majors in three different decades. He joins Billy Casper, Raymond Floyd, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, John Henry Taylor, Lee Trevino and Harry Vardon on that list.
Els is also just the sixth player to win multiple U.S. Opens and Open Championships. The others to accomplish that feat are an elite crew: Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Nicklaus, Trevino and Tiger Woods.
After the second round, Els trailed then-leader Brandt Snedeker by seven shots entering the weekend. Since 1995, only two major champions were down by that many strokes after 36 holes - Els and David Duval, who won the last time we were at Royal Lytham for the Open Championship.
Els was enshrined into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011, and with his win, he's the first male Hall of Fame member to win a major after his induction since Trevino won the 1984 PGA Championship after being inducted in 1981. Besides Els and Trevino, the only other players to win a major after being inducted are Nicklaus and Player.
As for Scott, he is just the second player since 1960 to hold at least a four-stroke lead entering the final round of the Open Championship and not win. The other was Jean Van de Velde, who was leading by five strokes entering the final round in 1999. Van de Velde famously triple-bogeyed the final hole, forcing a three-man playoff, which was won by Paul Lawrie.
Tiger Woods finished tied for third, his best finish in a major since the 2009 PGA Championship (second). That won’t be the key storyline regarding the 14-time major winner, though.
Woods was three-over par on the weekend after playing rounds one and two in six-under. Tiger has now failed to break par in any of his six weekend rounds in majors in 2012, and has failed to do so in 11 of his last 12 weekend rounds in majors overall.
A total of 17 majors have been played since Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open. Tiger has seven top-six finishes in majors in that empty-handed span.