Els fends off Schwartzel for second WGC crown|
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Ernie Els fired a bogey-free, six-under 66 Sunday
to beat fellow South African Charl Schwartzel and win the WGC-CA Championship.
Els, who earned his second WGC title, completed the event at 18-under-par 270.
He missed Phil Mickelson's tournament scoring record by a single stroke.
The win for Els was his 17th on the PGA Tour and 25th on the European Tour.
"I'm 40 years old, and I've had a tough run. It's just great," said Els, who
collected $1.4 million for the victory. "I really wanted to play well today. I
felt my game was in good shape, and I just wanted to come out and prove it to
Schwartzel had a share of the lead several times during the final round, but
two late bogeys cost him his first PGA Tour win. He closed with a two-under 70
at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral to take second at minus-14.
Matt Kuchar (68), Martin Kaymer (69) and Padraig Harrington (72) shared third
place at 11-under-par 277.
Mickelson, the 2009 champion, closed with a four-under 68 to share 14th at
The top two finishers were close until late in the round, and Harrington was
the only other player to get within three of Els' lead. Harrington birdied the
fifth to move within three, but he could not keep pace.
Els rolled in a four-foot birdie putt on the first to take the lead, but
Schwartzel joined him at 13-under with a 23-foot birdie effort on two. Els
could have moved back in front but missed a 10-footer for birdie.
Els quickly pulled three clear of his playing partner with a nine-foot birdie
putt on three, an eight-footer for birdie on four and a bogey by Schwartzel at
the par-four fifth.
Schwartzel rallied back from his bogey with a 22-footer for birdie on six and
an eight-foot birdie putt on seven to get back within one.
The duo both birdied the par-five eighth: Els with a two-putt and Schwartzel
with a 12-foot putt.
Schwartzel forged another tie for the lead on the par-five 10th. Els scrambled
to a par, while Schwartzel pitched his third to two feet and tapped in for
At the 11th, Schwartzel found a bunker with his second and was unable to get
up and down for par. He rolled in an eight-foot birdie putt on 12 to briefly
claim his final piece of the lead.
Els sank a three-footer for birdie on 12 to move one ahead. He parred four in
a row from there, including a tremendous 24-foot, par-saving putt on 14.
Schwartzel pulled his tee shot in a bunker at the par-three 15th and blasted
across the green into another trap, where Els was. Els got up and down for
par, while Schwartzel saved bogey from the second bunker but slid two back.
"He made a big par save on 14. I felt I was still in it being down one shot
and anything can happen those last few holes," said Schwartzel. "Then on 15, I
plugged and that was a killer."
Els sealed the deal at the par-four 17th, where he made birdie and Schwartzel
tripped to a bogey after coming up short of the green from the right trees.
"I had to really trust the changes I made last weekend, and today was a great
for that," stated Els, who won his first PGA Tour event since the 2008 Honda
Classic. "The wind was blowing, you had to hit solid shots, and Charl came at
me all day. I had to come up with the goods and I have to take a lot of
positives from this."
The runner-up finish was Schwartzel's best finish in the United States. Prior
to this event, he best finish on American soil was a share of ninth at the
WGC-Accenture Match Play earlier this year.
"For me, it was probably the biggest day I've had playing in America," stated
Schwartzel. "I've won on the European Tour but never have really done anything
spectacular in the U.S. It was a good day for me."
Alistair Presnell matched the low round of the day with his eight-under 64 to
share sixth place at 10-under-par 278. He was joined there by Paul Casey (69),
Alvaro Quiros (68), Bill Haas (71) and Graeme McDowell (66).
NOTES: Els' other WGC victory came at this event in 2004 when it was known as
the American Express Championship...Ian Poulter matched Presnell's 64 and that
helped the Englishman jump into a share of 37th at minus-two...The European
Tour returns to action next week in Morocco with the Hassan II Golf Trophy,
where Els won last year, but is not in the field to defend his title...The PGA
Tour remains in Florida for the Transitions Championship, where Retief Goosen
is slated to defend his title at Innisbrook.
03/14 20:07:20 ET