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Ernie Els ends the year on a high
December 20, 2010

Ernie Els held off the challenge of Retief Goosen to capture the South African Open Championship for the fifth time in his career on a fascinating final day in Durban. In the 100th staging of the event, it was fitting that Els, who shot a final round six under par 66, edged out fellow former champion Goosen by a shot, as arguably the two greatest South African golfers of the modern era went toe-to-toe. Els, who fired a round of 5-under-par 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 to finish one behind. Els finishes 2010 as World Number 12, 5 positions higher than at the end of 2009, while Goosen climbs into 15th.

Tetsuji Hiratsuka claimed a third title of the season when he won the US$600,000 Black Mountain Masters after a play-off against Thai youngster Namchoak Tantipokakul on Sunday. Hiratsuka triumphed in the Asian Tour’s season-finale at the Black Mountain Golf Club with a par at the first play-off hole on the par five 18th to pip Namchoak, who agonizingly bogeyed in extra time. The Japanese veteran, who also triumphed in the Air Bagan Myanmar Open and Queen’s Cup in Thailand earlier this season, finishes 2010 as World Number 65, an annual improvement of 102 spots.

Lee Westwood will end 2010 with nine weeks as World Number One, having ended Tiger Woods record consecutive stay of 281 weeks at the top and leaving Woods just one week short of 12 years in total as the World Number One in his career (623 Weeks).

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