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Lytham St Anne’s (UK): Ernie Els won the Open Championship and ended a 10-year major victory drought in shocking fashion on Sunday at Royal Lytham as Adam Scott squandered a four-stroke lead with four holes to play.
Els captured his fourth major title after the 1994 and 1997 US Opens and the 2002 British Open by navigating brisk winds and avoiding pesky pot bunkers down the stretch, going four-under par on the back nine to capture the Claret Jug.
The 42-year-old South African, who had gone winless in 36 major starts since his 2002 Open playoff triumph at Muirfield, fired a two-under par 68 to finish 72 holes at seven-under 273 and edge Scott, who fired a 72, by one stroke.
“It was my time for some reason,” Els said. “A lot of people never thought I would win another one. I started believing this year.”
Els sank a 15-foot birdie putt at the 18th, his third birdie in four days at the finishing hole, while Scott made bogeys on the final four holes in a total collapse, evoking memories of his idol Greg Norman’s epic Masters frustrations.
Tiger Woods, a 14-time major champion in the hunt with six holes remaining, settled for a share of third on 277 with US countryman Brandt Snedeker.
England’s Luke Donald and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell shared fifth, another stroke adrift.
“The 16th hole hurt me, missing that short putt,” Scott said.
Six days after his 32nd birthday, Scott found only heartache instead of victory in his 46th major start. It was his third loss in nine events when leading after 54 holes and he became the fourth Aussie in a row to lose a major when ahead entering the last round.
Els, the 16th winner in the past 16 majors, made bogeys at the second and ninth holes but charged on the back side with birdies at 10, 12 and 14.
Lahiri finishes 31st
Anirban Lahiri emerged as the best Asian golfer at the Open despite a final round of 73, his highest of the week to finish at three-over 283 that left him in tied 31st place in the world’s oldest Major. Jeev Milkha Singh also shot a final round 73 to finished at 10-over 290 in tied 69th place.
Jeev admitted that he was disappointed, but said, “I was really glad to be here. I enjoyed every bit of it. I expected better results than the way it has ended up. I fought hard.” (Agencies)