Experience prevails

Ernie Els wins the British Open 2012 as Adam Scott collapses with four bogeys in last four shots, suffering one of the biggest chokes in golf’s history.

South African Ernie Els clinched his second British Open title, after long-time leader Adam Scott spectacularly imploded at Royal Lytham & St Annes. It was Els’s fourth major championship. World number 13 Scott, chasing his first win in one of the big four events, started the last round with a four-shot lead and seemed to be cruising to victory as he maintained that cushion with six holes to play. But a late attack of the jitters saw him drop strokes at each of the last four holes to allow South African Els to slip in through the back door and lift the coveted Claret Jug with a two-under-par 68 giving him a seven-under total of 273.

Scott’s sad 75 meant he had to settle for second place on 274, three shots ahead of former world number one Tiger Woods (73) and his fellow American Brandt Snedeker (74).

“I am just numb at the moment, I feel for Adam Scott, he is a great friend of mine,” said Els, who picked up £900,000 in prize money. “We both wanted to win so badly, but I really feel for him. That is the nature of the beast, that is why we are out here. It was my time. I was hoping at best a play-off. A lot of people never thought I would win but I started believing this year, getting a lot of help from my family and the professionals around me.”

Tiger Woods threatened at times but a triple bogey via a greenside bunker at the par-four sixth and three straight bogeys from the 13th sank his chances of a 15th major and first since the 2008 US Open. The 36-year-old carded a three-over 73 to end tied third at three under alongside playing partner and fellow American Brandt Snedeker (74).

The victory of Els has also ensured South Africa’s supremacy over Australia in the Open record books. Both countries had nine wins apiece before the 2012 Open and for a while poor Adam Scott looked like bringing up the 10th for his nation by joining Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Lel Nagle and Ian Baker-Finch on the roll of honour. But Lytham has been good to the South Africans – both Bobby Locke and Gary Player have lifted the jug here, with Louis Oosthuizen their other champion – and Els’s second title has nudged South Africa into fourth place in the all-time Open list with 10 wins, behind Scotland (41), the United States (41) and England (22).

Autism fight goes on
There was a real human story behind the golfing one as Ernie Els became Open champion again at Royal Lytham. Between his two victories 10 years apart Els and his wife Liezl have become major fund-raisers after the discovery when he was seven that their son Ben has autism. They moved their main home from Wentworth to Florida and established the ‘Els for Autism Foundation’. They also launched a campaign to raise £20mn for a Centre of Excellence, committing £4million of their own money. The land is now bought and it is hoped it will open in 2013.


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