WE LOOK AT SOME OF THE MA­JORS WHICH SHAPED ERNIE’S LEG­ENDARY CA­REER IN THE GAME •

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life -

MA­JOR NO 8

Wins 1994 US Open at Oak­mont – the one where Arnold Palmer made his farewell ap­pear­ance – in three­way 18-hole play­off over Amer­i­can vet­eran Loren Roberts and Scot Colin Mont­gomerie. A third round 66 put Els in the lead on Sun­day in only his sec­ond US Open. In the fi­nal round, Els ben­e­fit­ted from a con­tro­ver­sial rul­ing af­ter hit­ting his open­ing drive into deep rough. He was given a free drop when of­fi­cials ruled that a broad­cast truck was on his line, which was later ad­judged a wrong rul­ing. In the Mon­day play­off the three pro­tag­o­nists were a cu­mu­la­tive 13-over-par, and Els re­cov­ered from a hor­rific 5-7-5 start to shoot 74, matched by Roberts, who then bo­geyed the sec­ond sud­den-death hole. Won $320 000.

MA­JOR NO 20

A sec­ond US Open in 1997, at Con­gres­sional, and again it was over fi­nal round play­ing part­ner Colin Mont­gomerie who took sec­ond place ahead of third-round leader Tom Lehman, af­ter a 69 by Els in the fi­nal round. A close duel was de­cided on the 71st hole, when Els made his par putt, and Monty missed his. At 27, he be­came the youngest win­ner of a pair of US Opens since Jack Nick­laus 30 years ear­lier. Spe­cial for Ernie was that both dad Neels and mom Het­tie were at Con­gres­sional to hug him af­ter­wards. Won $465 000.

MA­JOR NO 41

A unique four-man play­off – the first in a ma­jor – was re­quired at Muir­field in Scot­land be­fore Els tri­umphed over French­man Thomas Levet on the first sud­den-death hole, Aus­tralians Steve Elk­ing­ton and Stuart Ap­pleby hav­ing been elim­i­nated at the end of the Open’s four-hole medal play­off. Ernie’s win was char­ac­terised by the way he han­dled ad­ver­sity. He had a su­perb 66 in the sec­ond round (out in 29) to share the half­way lead, and then a mag­nif­i­cent 72 in dread­ful weather on Satur­day. Hav­ing bat­tled to the turn in 40, he came home in 32 to be two clear go­ing into the fi­nal round, where his up-and-down 70 saw him caught by his pur­suers who were shoot­ing in the 60s. Els owed his win to two re­mark­able bunker shots from awk­ward stances on Sun­day; one out of a deep bunker to save par at 13, and the other on the fifth play­off hole at 18 un­der great pres­sure. He nailed the four-foot putt to take the claret jug.

MA­JOR NO 80

A sur­prise win in the 2012 Open at Royal Lytham at the age of 42. Aus­tralian Adam Scott was four ahead with four holes to play, and bo­geyed each of them to lose by one to Els, who had ear­lier birdied the 18th for a 68 and the club­house lead. Els had been seven be­hind af­ter 36 holes, and six be­hind af­ter 54. While some might say that Els backed into a for­tu­nate vic­tory, nev­er­the­less he pro­duced four solid rounds for a seven-un­der to­tal of 273, which equalled his low­est 72-hole score in this championship or any ma­jor, the pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sion hav­ing also been at Lytham in 1996. On that oc­ca­sion he had bo­geyed 16 and 18 on Sun­day to lose by two to Tom Lehman.

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