Els Wins South African Open


Two local major winners had quite a duel in the final two rounds of the rain-delayed South Africa Open at Durban Country Club. Three-time major winner Ernie Els came through in the end, holding off two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen by a stroke.

Both players carded 6-under 66 in the final round of the 100th playing of the tournament. Because the opening round was only partially completed, the final two rounds of the European Tour event were played Sunday, which started with monsoon-like conditions that further altered the tournament.

The field actually negotiated a 17-hole course Sunday as the par-3 fourth was deemed unplayable because of a waterlogged green, which forced the players to post par on the hole.

Els ended up at 25-under 257 after a 67 in the third round. Goosen had two 66s Sunday. Following those two were another pair of top South African touring pros, reigning British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, who posted rounds of 67 and 66 for a 21-under 267, and Charl Schwartzel (69, 67) another three strokes back.

The win was the fifth for Els in South Africa's national championship, a source of pride for the popular player known as the "Big Easy."

"This is a special day for me as I faced a lot of pressure, given I was up against great players and a great course," said the 41-year-old. "I realized from the start of the day that Retief was the one I had to finish ahead of. He has beaten me down the final straight quite a few times so it was great to triumph this time.

"We have played against each other since we were kids, and I know he's a very good player."

Schwartzel had the shot of the day, carding a hole-in-one on the par-3 15th hole in the third round to win a new car.

In the second round, Spain's Rafale Cabrera-Bello was disqualified for running out of golf balls when he lost the last ball on the 11th hole. Though he could have replaced it with another ball of the same brand by the same manufacturer - provided by a playing partner, purchased from the pro shop or retrieved elsewhere, Cabrera-Bello called it a day after shooting a 46 on the front nine.


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