Els takes lesson from near disaster - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Els takes lesson from near disaster

By Robert Grant 08/02/2004 07:38:54 PM Comments (0)

Ernie Els reckoned he learned a lesson but he won't want to repeat it after his Royal Melbourne victory march disintegrated into a desperate struggle.

The world No.3 revived memories of Greg Norman's infamous collapse at the 1996 US Masters as he blew an eight shot lead in the first nine holes of his final round in the $2 million Heineken Classic.

Unlike Norman, however, Els was able to regroup and he held off cool Queenslander Adam Scott for a one shot victory.

At the start of the day the main question seemed to be whether Els could eclipse his European Tour record of 29 under par for 72 holes.

So easy had the Big Easy made the game look that he was already 22-under, having gone within a shot of the magic 59 in the first round and added 66 and 68.

In the end he was happy just to squeeze home with a 74 for 20 under and claim his third successive Heineken Classic, relegating Scott to his third runner-up performance in Melbourne in three starts after the past two Masters events.

Scott made a rare mistake in leaving his six metre birdie putt to force a play-off a few centimetres short but was otherwise a model of consistent quality with scores of 66-68-68-67.

The usually laidback Els admitted he was shaken by his tumble on the front nine played in 42, including a triple bogey seven at the fourth hole which saw Scott draw level at 16 under.

With a troubling breeze blowing, Els floundered around in bare bunkers and on glassy greens.

"It was all going wrong, it was one bad break after another," said Els.

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