OPEN winner Ernie Els insisted his immediate thoughts were with runner up Adam Scott after the Australian’s dramatic implosion resulted in his first Major victory since 2002.
Scott was four shots clear yesterday morning and consequently powerfully placed to secure the first Major of his career but in bogeying the final four holes his greatest chance of glory passed in a shroud of considerable self-doubt.
Els ended the winner after birdying the 18th to end seven under and a solitary shot ahead of Scott but if the temptation arose to revel in the runner up’s pain it almost instantly disappeared as the South African admitted to feeling a deep sympathy for his otherwise impressive opponent.
“I am just numb at the moment, I feel for Adam Scott, he is a great friend of mine,” said Els. “We both wanted to win so badly, but I really feel for him. That is the nature of the beast, that is why we are out here.
“It was my time. I was hoping at best a play-off. A lot of people never thought I would win but I started believing this year, getting a lot of help from my family and the professionals around me.”
Though the tale firmly suggested otherwise, Scott was adamant nerves played no part in ensuring such a landmark triumph continued to elude and instead felt his best form had simply escaped him at a time of such genuine need.
“I was surprisingly calm the whole way round,” he said. “It came down to not making a couple of putts on the last four holes. If I make one on 15 or 16 it’s very different.
“It was a very sloppy finish and disappointing to finish that way. I played so well all week.”
Americans Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker finished joint third at three under, while 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell and England’s Luke Donald ended joint fifth.