Ernie Els Wins British; Zach Finishes Top 10


Congratulations to Ernie Els on winning his second British Open and his fourth career major championship Sunday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

While others collapsed around him - most notably fourth-round leader Adam Scott - the affable South African managed to shoot a final round 2-under par 68, which included a clutch 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole that ultimately would seal his victory.  Minutes later, Scott's knees buckled after he missed a putt on the 18th that would have forced a playoff.

Els finished the tournament at 7-under par 273 on rounds of 67-70-68-68.  He edged Scott by a single shot after the 32-year-old Australian, who began the day with a four-stroke lead and who looked indestructible through 14 holes, bogeyed his last four.  

A golf course that had played comparatively easily over the first three days finally showed its teeth Sunday as the wind kicked up and claimed a number of victims, including Tiger Woods.  Woods posted 73 and finished in a tie for third at 3-under with third-round leader Brandt Snedeker, who shot 74. Once again, after playing well in the opening two rounds of a major, as he did three times this year, Woods could not close the deal on the weekend.

Congratulations, too, to 2012 John Deere Classic champion Zach Johnson, who finished in a tie for ninth, thereby guaranteeing himself a return to the world's oldest championship when it's played next year at Muirfield.  Zach was six strokes off the lead and playing in the third-to-last pairing alongside Els, but shot 5-over 75 - as did Scott - and never really got anything going. 

Meanwhile, three-time John Deere Classic champion Steve Stricker concluded the competition with a 1-over 71, leaving him at 2-over for the championship and tied for 23rd with seven other players, including John Deere Classic contestants Carl Petterson and Nick Watney.

Other John Deere Classic contestants who played at this year's British included 2006 JDC champion John Senden, who shot a 68 on Sunday and tied for 38th; K.J. Choi, Troy Matteson, and Kyle Stanley, who all finished T-39;  Ted Potter, Jr. (60th); Charles Howell III, Sang Moon Bae, and Garth Mulroy (T-64), Chad Campbell (T-72), and John Daly (T-81).

A total of 25 John Deere Classic contestants played in this year's Open Championship, with 14 making the cut.  A total of 26 Americans played on the weekend. 

It was the second consecutive "come-from-in-front" victory in a major this year.  Webb Simpson won the U.S. Open while sitting in the locker room watching on TV as fourth-round leader Jim Furyk imploded on the final stretch of holes at Olympic Club.

The victory is Els' 65th on both the PGA and various international tours.  His previous major championships were the 1994 U.S. Open, the 1997 U.S. Open, and the 2002 British Open.  In 2004, he lost a British Open playoff to Todd Hamilton of Galesburg, Ill. 

MAGIC HAPPENS HERE

JULY 10 - 16