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The Open Championship 2012

Posted by: Princeton Group | Posted on: July 23rd, 2012 | 0 Comments

“I really feel for my buddy, Scottie. I really do. I’ve been there before. I’ve blown majors before and golf tournaments before and I just hope he doesn’t take it as hard as I did.”

~Ernie Els, after Sunday’s Final Round

Ernie Els wins the 2012 Open Championship Claret Cup

The question on everyone’s lips following the final round of this year’s Open Championship was: “Did Adam Scott lose it, or did Ernie Els win it?”

The answer is, as is often the case in life: A bit of both, actually.

Scott carried a four shot lead into the final round, and he maintained a comfortable lead throughout Sunday’s proceedings. But, the major-less Aussie bogied each of the last four holes, when one par on that final stretch would’ve gotten him into a playoff, and two would’ve given him the Claret Jug.

Instead, Scott, now nine years removed from his biggest win–in the Players Championship, when he was 23 and bursting with potential–may wonder if he’ll ever live up to even a scintilla of that early promise.

Let one fact not be obscured amidst Scott’s collapse—Ernie Els played an incredible final round. On a day when the wind blew, and nobody in the final three groups shot better than 73, Els fired a sterling 68. Even better, Els composed an adroit back nine of four-under-par 32. And, best of all, he birdied the eighteenth hole and triumphantly tossed his ball into an adoring gallery.

Clearly, Royal Lytham is a felicitous course for Els; he’d finished second and third there in previous Open Championships before winning this time. He now has a second Open Championship to pair with his two U.S. Open’s, and the win reaffirms his status as an all-time great player—as if his recent induction into the Golf Hall of Fame wasn’t enough confirmation.

Considering Els had been through nothing short of professional hell the past few years—his putting had become so porous that Els admitted, “People were laughing and making jokes about me”—this may be the sweetest of all his victories.

The resounding cheers from the gallery exhorting Els on throughout Sunday showed any viewer who wasn’t aware just how beloved the “Big Easy” is all over the world.

Tiger Woods was within striking distance all weekend long, but he met his end on the sixth hole Sunday, in a hellacious bunker from which he suffered a debilitating triple-bogey. He also persistently hit irons off the tee, a conservative game plan than left him onerous approaches into Lytham’s par fours. The strategy eventually wore him down, especially after his layup irons off the tee landed in fairway bunkers on back-to-back holes on the back nine. So, while he loomed a threat most of the week, Tiger remains stuck on 14 major championships—none since his world came crashing down in late 2009, and four short of the magic number 18 he chases so obsessively.

So much has happened to Els since his last major win at Muirfield in 2002. His game (mainly his putting) and his confidence (destroyed mainly by the repeated beatings Tiger Woods handed him) were flickering. He was also learning how to deal with the autism of his son, Ben.

With Ben’s condition driving him, Els has raised both awareness and munificent sums of money for the cause of autism, and his openness and candor has only served to endear him all the more to the masses.

Yes, Adam Scott gave away the tournament, but Ernie Els played substantially better than anyone else who was in contention during Sunday’s final round—and in doing so, Els put himself in prime position to catch the famed Claret Jug when Scott dropped it.