Buoyant Els looks to brighter future
Ernie Els refused to be downbeat after missing hs first win of the year by a shot at the WGC-HSBC Champions.
Ernie Els refused to be downbeat after missing his first win of the year by a shot following a final-hole blunder that opened the door to a Phil Mickelson victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday.
After playing with a new ball for the first time this week, Els dropped just one, albeit crucial, shot during his course-record nine-under-par final round of 63 to post the clubhouse lead after beginning the day seven shots adrift of Mickelson, the overnight leader
But while bogey can never really come at the right time, Els’ only blemish of the day came at the end of a superb round with him holding a one-shot lead.
Just before Els’ five wood approach splashed into the lake at the front of the 18th green, Mickelson saved par at the 16th with a testing, breaking putt before regaining the lead with a birdie at 17.
And with Els watching on TV, Mickelson hacked his way twice out of the rough on the 18th fairway, but with two putts for the title, a second WGC win of the year was never really in doubt as the world number two completed a final-round 69 – the only player in the field with four sub-70 rounds.
“I really did give it a heck of a run, I had a good time,” said three-time major winner Els. “It was a wonderful day.
“I knew the pressure was on, I knew the situation, and for me this was a great preparation for the weeks to come.
“I can’t think about the shot at the last. For me to come back all the way, to actually share the lead, was quite nice.
“I’m disappointed about that, but what I’m going to really think about is the 63 I shot.”
Els last tasted victory at the Hassan II Golf Trophy in Morocco at the end of last year, with his last official win coming at the Honda Classic in Florida earlier in 2008.
Heading to the season-ending Dubai World Championship later this month, Els faces his first winless season since turning professional in 1989. He is in ninth place in the Race to Dubai.
“This was a great week for me working on the golf ball,” he added. “This week was a big week, I made a lot of putts, my short game is back, so I’m feeling good about my future again.”
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