By F. Edwin Miller
After Sunday’s slim victory over Adam Scott in The Open Championship, Ernie Els secured his spot in history as one of two players (Gary Player) to ever win a major tournament in three different decades.
(Andrew Redington, Getty Images Europe)
Els captured his first U.S. Open title in 1994 and then another in 1997. On July 21, 2002 Els won his first British Open championship. Ten years and a day later, history remarkably repeated itself, crowning Els as The Open Championship king once more.
“The last year I was no where,” Els told ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi about his two year leading up to Sunday’s win. “Absolutely nowhere, and somehow I started believing a little bit more and here we are. It’s unbelievable.”
However, Els triumphed in an “unbelievable” manner. His counterpart, Adam Scott, had a meltdown of epic proportions on the final three holes, watching his lead slowly slip away as Els defeated him by only one stroke.
(Warren Little, Getty Images Europe)
“I feel for him. I’m numb,” said Els about Scott’s downward spiral. “Obviously later on it’ll sit in that I won this golf tournament but right now I really feel for my buddy, hes such a great guy.” Els called Scott a “great talent,” mentioning the Australian’s close proximity to stardom. However, as hard as he tried, he couldn’t shy away from sharing his feelings about Scott. “Obviously that’s not the way he wanted to lose the tournament” said Els somberly. “I feel very fortunate but I feel really bad for Adam today.”
(Ross Kinnaird, Getty Images Europe)
A column in the record book for “choke” ceases to exist and Sunday’s Open Championship surely incited one of sports’ age-old questions. Did Ernie Els win or did Adam Scott hand over the victory to him? Els appears to have stepped in and stole a win; yet, a scorecard could never tell that story. Today’s stat sheet just isn’t truthful enough to convey Scott’s series of mishaps. Adam Scott had the 2012 Open Championship in his palms and he lost grip (with his golf club literally), don’t let the statistics convince you otherwise.