Fifth World Match Play title for Els

Updated: 25 February 2007 08:48 IST

Ernie Els captured a record-equalling fifth World Match Play title by beating Thomas Bjorn 4 and 3 in their final.

Fifth World Match Play title for Els

Wentworth: Ernie Els captured a record-equalling fifth World Match Play title by beating Thomas Bjorn 4 and 3 in their final at Wentworth on Sunday. The South African was always ahead of Bjorn, although the Dane did mount a late comeback with a hole-in-one on the 14th. Bjorn and Els are neighbours at the exclusive Wentworth club just west of London, but on Sunday the friendship was put to one side as they battled it out for the $1.67-million winners' prize on offer - a record purse for European golf. Right from the beginning, Els imposed his authority on the match - the South African three up after the opening 18 holes. Bjorn failed to turn things around in the afternoon, falling six shots behind after finding the trees at the 28th hole. Belatedly, the Dane began to rally - reducing the gap at the 30th hole and then further still with a magical stroke at the 32nd hole. The Dane hit a hole-in-one at the 179-yard 14th, guiding a four-iron tee shot deliciously into the hole. It earned the Ryder Cup star a $62,000 Toyota car for the ace, only the third in the event's 40-year history and the first-ever in a final. It was a dramatic way to keep the match alive - but Bjorn did not stave off the inevitable defeat for long. At the next hole, Els completed a successful defence of his crown by holing a 26-foot curling putt for par. The 34-year-old also won three straight titles from 1994 to 1996 and now matches the five won by his fellow South African Gary Player and Spain's Seve Ballesteros. Els' victory also ensured that he is guaranteed to take his first European Order of Merit title, having won seven tournaments this year and collected over $5 million in European events. (AP)
Topics : Golf
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