Els makes it five in Durban
Ernie Els beat Retief Goosen by one shot to claim his fifth South African Open title at the Durban Country Club on Sunday.
Ernie Els claimed a fifth South African Open title after his final-round six-under-par 63 helped him edge out another former champion, Retief Goosen, by a shot in Durban.
Two rounds were played at the Durban Country Club on Sunday after rain earlier in the week had washed out almost the entire first day, while further showers in the early hours of Sunday morning delayed play and also made the par-three fourth green unplayable.
It meant that instead of 36 holes, only 34 were played making the par score 69 rather than 72.
And three-time major winner Els, who fired a 64 earlier in the day, followed it up with another excellent display as he carded five birdies, an eagle and a bogey to end on 25 under overall.
He by no means cruised to victory, though, as Goosen rallied late on with four birdies in his last five holes.
But the charge proved too late for the championship winner from 1995 and 2005, and despite emulating Els’ 63, he fell just short on 24 under overall.
Another major winner in reigning Open champion Louis Oosthuizen ended four stokes further back after a 63 in the final round, while rising youngster Charl Schwartzel (64) finished on 18 under to make it a top four for South Africa.
Robert Rock was the highest placed Englishman thanks to successive 64s that saw him end on 16 under to complete the top five at the co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event.
Els, who picked up a prize of 158,500 euros (£132,989) after securing his third title of the year, said: “It was a wonderful choice to come here. This really makes the year very good now.
“Playing under a lot of pressure, with really good players in the field on a great golf course. It was a great championship.”
The title added to his previous ones in 1992, 1996, 1998 and 2006 and was made even more special considering it came in the 100th edition of the tournament.
Els, 41, described playing two rounds in a day during such a big competition as an “incredible feeling”.
He continued: “I’ve been playing the game for quite some time, 20 years now as a professional player and I’ve never had a day like that.
“I had a two shot lead at the start of the day and then after five holes I was three behind and then I was one up again after 18 holes. So it was just an incredible day.”
He also felt that securing an eagle on the par-five 14th hole was crucial in helping him edge out Goosen – a man whose two titles were won with Els as his main final round rival.
He added: “Obviously 14 was a big putt, making eagle there. I knew Retief was going to come, but I never thought he was going to do it at 16 and then he had a great finish.
“I think right from the start (it was going to be a head-to-head). I knew Retief was going to be the guy I had to beat.
“Obviously Louis and Charl were there, but Retief was the main one.
“He’s beaten me coming down the stretch quite a few times, so I really wanted to play well. It was really important. He made it really tough for me.”
Rookie Romain Wattel (65) ended on 16 under overall, along with Rock, while fellow Frenchman Victor Riu (66) and Alexander Cejka (65) were a further shot back.
The top 10 was completed by Robert Dinwiddie (65) from England, Dane Thorbjorn Olesen (66) and South African Tim Clark (66) – all tied on 14 under.
Rory McIlroy makes brilliant start to fog-affected Abu Dhabi Championship
McIlroy has a remarkable record in Abu Dhabi with four second-place finishes.
Rory McIlroy shines in Abu Dhabi to take first-round lead following flawless 64
McIlroy has a remarkable record in Abu Dhabi with four second-place finishes, three thirds and a fifth in his last nine starts, but has never won.
Justin Thomas on end of Ralph Lauren deal: ‘They moved on so that’s what I’m doing as well’
Justin Thomas said he was upset by...
My last win feels a long time ago – Rory McIlroy aiming to start year on a high
McIlroy has not tasted victory since November 2019.
Rory McIlroy insists Justin Thomas will ‘try to be better’ after homophobic slur
World number three Thomas was heard using a derogatory word towards himself after missing a par putt in Hawaii.
Rory McIlroy backs Tiger Woods to make quick recovery from latest back surgery
McIlroy expects the American to be fit for the Masters in April.
Tiger Woods focusing on return to PGA Tour after undergoing fifth back operation
The 45-year-old will miss the Farmers Insurance Open and the Genesis Invitational.
Lee Westwood resumes bid for record-equalling 11th Ryder Cup appearance
The 47-year-old occupied one of the automatic places in the team before the golf was stopped due to Covid-19.
Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew turns to Golfer’s CBD in pursuit of further success
Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew believes Golfer’s CBD could play a vital role in her future success.