The Open 2012: Ernie Els wins as Adam Scott crumbles
Last updated on .From the section Golf
Ernie Els clinched his second Open title after long-time leader Adam Scott spectacularly imploded at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
The 42-year-old South African birdied the 18th to end seven under as Australia's Scott bogeyed the last four holes to come second by one shot.
Els, who began the day six shots adrift, clinched his fourth major title and first since winning the 2002 Open at Muirfield.
The 1994 and 1997 US Open champion carded 68 to the 75 of Scott, who had led since the sixth hole on Saturday.
The 32-year-old Scott was four shots clear on the 15th tee and needed to hole from 10ft on the last to force a play-off.
"I am just numb at the moment, I feel for Adam Scott, he is a great friend of mine," said Els, who picked up £900,000 in prize money.
"We both wanted to win so badly, but I really feel for him. That is the nature of the beast, that is why we are out here.
"It was my time. I was hoping at best a play-off. A lot of people never thought I would win but I started believing this year, getting a lot of help from my family and the professionals around me."
Tiger Woods threatened at times but a triple bogey via a greenside bunker at the par-four sixth and three straight bogeys from the 13th sank his chances of a 15th major and first since the 2008 US Open.
The 36-year-old carded a three-over 73 to end tied third at three under alongside playing partner and fellow American Brandt Snedeker (74).
Woods said: "It's part of golf - we all go through these phases, some people it lasts entire careers, others are a little bit shorter. Even the greatest players to ever play have all gone through little stretches like this."
Graeme McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion, was playing in the final group for a second straight major but again struggled to engage the leader.
The Northern Irishman took 75 to tie for fifth at two under with England's world number one Luke Donald, who climbed up the leaderboard with a 69.
Scott's capitulation must rank worse than Rory McIlroy's Masters meltdown in 2011 and up there with Jean van de Velde's final-hole drama at Carnoustie in 1999.
His defeat called to mind his compatriot Greg Norman's loss at the Masters in 1996 when Nick Faldo overhauled a six-stroke deficit to snatch victory at Augusta in the last round.
"I'm very disappointed but I played so beautifully for most of the week I really shouldn't let this bring me down," said Scott.
"I know I've let a really great chance slip through my fingers today, but somehow I'll look back and take the positives from it."
Els, who was ninth at last month's US Open, becomes the 16th consecutive different major champion and moves up from 40th to 15th in the world rankings. He also finished tied second when Royal Lytham hosted the Open in 1996 and tied third when it was last held on the Fylde coast, in 2001.
Scott led by four overnight and was still four clear of second-placed McDowell by the turn as the expected challenge in a stiffening breeze failed to materialise.
Els was six shots adrift after going out in two-over 36 but he edged into the frame with birdies at the 10th, 12th and 14th.
His putt across the final green set up the prospect of a play-off but Scott found a bunker with his drive and was unable to make his par.
Donald, who like Scott is also still searching for a maiden major title, echoed the Australian's feelings, and the feelings of many in the field.
"Certainly I'll leave this week knowing that my game is definitely good enough to win majors," said the 34-year-old, who finished five shots behind Els.
"Unfortunately I couldn't quite hole the putts, but I'll take a lot of positives away from this week."
Good to see LD make the top 5.
And the bbc still manage to sqeeze yet another mugshot of mcillroy in....
Finally, does anyone else find Nick Faldo irritating in the extreme? Amazing how often one of his co-commentators started to say something, then "Sir Nick" cut in and spoke over the top of him.
couldn't agree more rainbowdog about the lady interviewer
"I'd bet he didn't really hear the daft '3 bogeys didn't help' woman. Poor bloke."
Bit miffed by the chap who interviewed Ernie and said "there were many people throughout the world who thought they would never see you win again"
Ernie did well not to react, in the same way Scott handled that inane woman. Both real gents.
A Brit who won six golf majors and is the all time top points scorer in Ryder Cup, I mean come on.
Given that The Open was the original major I think your comment is just plain daft. As for Nick Faldo, I thought he was quite good in the commentary box. Would like to see Sam Torrance back though.
If it's any consolation to Scott, Jason Dufner was FIVE strokes up with four to play at the PGA Championship last year and blew it, but he's responded with a really excellent season and has challenged in two of the three majors this year. Adam's reaction afterwards suggests that he has enough maturity and perspective to get over this, and let's hope that's the case.
These two examples seem an order of magnitude worse than Scott, in my view
Tut tut :-) "Super Wiggo" wouldn't have done the job without his super team, which includes fellow Australians! Victory for both nations I'd say.
I don't feel sorry for Scott, he choked. He can't say he wasn't feeling the rattles because it's clear he was. At his age he should be able to manage that pressure. (says the armchair umpire)
Congrats to EE and AS for taking it to the wire, but everyone in the top 10 must also be applauded for their efforts.
All the hype surrounded the continuing under performing Woods who has proven time and again that he has lost his magic.
Many find it frustrating that commentators continually trumpet Woods at the expense of some superb Golfers in the field.
Els was hardly mentioned as if he was yestetday's man but thankfully he proved them all wrong.