Sunday, July 22, 2012

Adam Scott Collapse Hands Ernie Els The Open

Ernie Els hoisted the Claret Jug above his head for the second time Sunday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, but the story of the day wasn’t how Els won The Open, it was how Adam Scott lost it.

Scott had his first major victory on lock. For three days, there was no doubting who was the best player on the course. Scott walked up and down the narrow fairways at Lytham and avoided the 206 crater-like bunkers, knocking shots within 15-feet with ease. Only the American Brandt Snedeker gave him a run over the first two days. Snedeker shot a 64 on Friday and stole the lead going into the third round.

Scott reclaimed the top spot after an impressive 68 to start the weekend. He was full steam ahead while players like Els, Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell and Zach Johnson moved up and fell down the leaderboard.

The Aussie spotted himself a four-stroke lead over McDowell and Snedeker going into the final round Sunday and a six stroke lead over Els. It was enough of a lead to force the players in contention to pull out their best rounds of the tournament.

After 14 holes Sunday morning it still looked as though the tournament was in Scott’s hands. He slipped early in the round making the turn at 2-over for the day, but still held a comfortable 4-stroke lead going into the 15th hole.  

That’s when the snowball started.

Scott boggied the 15th, drawing Els to within two strokes. Scott then boggied the 16th and then the 17th and then found himself with a 12-foot par putt on the 18th to force a playoff. Els finished his round with par, par, par, Open-winning birdie. Scott, given the opportunity to force extra holes, finished bogie, bogie, bogie, Open-losing bogie.   

It was a total collapse. Scott had it in hand while Els finished out a round most thought would earn him a top-3 payday. Scott handed Els the tournament, but to the surprise of just about the entire world, he did it with class and never once kicked himself for losing the best chance he’s ever had at capturing a major title.

Scott walked off the course and answered all the questions he knew would be coming. He never took anything away from Els’ victory and showed that he will someday win a major title. Like Els said, he’s got too much talent not too.

Els captured his second Open Championship and his fourth major victory. He won the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmonth, the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional and the 2002 Open Championship at Muirfield. He finished with a scorecard of 67-70-68-68-273.

Tiger Woods, the favorite going into the Open Championship finished tied for third with Brandt Snedeker. Graeme McDowell and Zach Johnson entered the final round in contention, but finished tied for fifth and tied for ninth.

The final major of the year, the PGA Championship will be held at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, South Carolina from August 9-12.  

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