Sun Sentinel
PGA Tour
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 myself."

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 eight-under-par 280.

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 birdie.

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