Els wins Open in playoff
Els clinched the third major title of his career Sunday, edging out Australia's
Steve Elkington and Stuart Appleby, and Frenchman Thomas Levet in a four-way playoff
for the 2002 British Open.
32-year-old South African, who completed the 72 holes of regulation play with
a one-under-par 70, had to survive a roller-coaster ride of emotion before sealing
victory with a five-foot putt for par at the fifth extra hole.
twice U.S. Open champion became only the third South African to win the third
of the year's four major championships.
Bobby Locke won the Open four times between 1949 and 1957, while Gary Player --
one of just three men to clinch the title in three different decades -- triumphed
in 1959, 1968 and 1974.
and Elkington both exited the playoff after the first four holes following bogeys
at the 18th, and Els and Levet then had to replay the 18th in sudden-death.
found a fairway bunker off the tee and Els ended up in a greenside bunker with
his second, but the South African was able to save par while the Frenchman had
to settle for a bogey-five.
four players had finished regulation play tied at six-under-par 278, Appleby shooting
a 65, and Elkington and Levet matching 66s.
who led the field by two after Saturday's difficult third round, seemed to have
the a third major title firmly in his grasp when he moved three strokes clear
with six holes to play.
the world number three bogeyed the 14th, double-bogeyed the short 16th and had
to birdie the par-five 17th to join the playoff -- the third in the last five
whose U.S. Open victories came at Oakmont in 1994 and at Congressional in 1997,
gathered five birdies in all -- along with a double-bogey and two bogeys -- on
a calm and sunny day.
birdied six of the last 10 holes and Elkington, who only just made the second-round
cut after opening scores of 71 and 73, picked up five birdies.
aiming to become the first Frenchman to win the Open title since Arnaud Massy
in 1907, booked his place in the playoff by holing a 35-foot putt from just off
the green to eagle the par-five 17th.
Gary Evans, who was outright leader at six under earlier in the day, closed with
a drama-filled 65 to finish tied for fifth at five-under 278 with Ireland's Padraig
Harrington (67) and Japan's Shigeki Mauyama (68).
who struggled for accuracy off the tee for much of the final round, had to survive
several testing moments as the last-day leaderboard fluctuated with regularity.
Having teed off
one stroke behind Evans -- who was six under at that point after 14 holes -- he
bogeyed the par-four first after pulling his tee shot left into a bunker from
where he could only splash out on to the fairway.
approach into the green left him with a par-saving putt from 20 feet, which he
missed, but he regrouped with a par at the next and then birdied the 378-yard
third hole after sinking a 20-foot putt.
South African was frustrated after missing a birdie-putt from just three feet
at the par-five fifth but then moved one stroke in front when he sank a birdie-putt
from four feet at the ninth.
birdied the par-four 10th after holing a putt from 12 feet and then hit a superb
nine-iron approach to 10 feet at the 381-yard 12th to forge three clear of the
seemed to set to drop a shot at the par-three 13th when his six-iron off the tee
found the first of two pot bunkers guarding the left of the green.
from a testing lie close to the bunker's face, the smooth-swinging South African
nearly holed out after producing a brilliant sand save for his par.
dropped a shot at the 14th after finding a fairway bunker and his lead was cut
to just one with Appleby, Elkington Levet all safely in the clubhouse.
Els double-bogeyed the par-three 16th after pulling a seven iron to the left of
the green, over-running his chip back and finally two-putting.
been three ahead with six to play, Els was now one shot behind, but he birdied
the 546-yard 17th and parred the last.
Tiger Woods finished his British Open campaign in style with a six-under-par 65.
Chasing his third
successive major title of the year, he made the most of the benign conditions
for an even-par aggregate of 284.
begun the day 11 shots off the pace following his worst ever professional round
of 81 in Saturday's dreadful weather, the American fired an eagle and five birdies
to vault up the leaderboard.
have played well all week and my goal today was to get to even par," he said.
"I think that would have been a very successful tournament and I am very
pleased that I have now done that."
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