Els hangs on for fifth South African Open title

Ernie Els after winning his fifth South African Open title

Ernie Els after winning his fifth South African Open title

DURBAN, South Africa – Ernie Els won the South African Open for the fifth time Sunday, shooting a 6-under 66 to beat Retief Goosen by one shot in a tournament shortened to 17 holes for each of the final two rounds.

The third and fourth rounds were played Sunday without the par-3 fourth, where the green was water-logged and all players were given a par score.

Els had five birdies, an eagle and a bogey in the final round to finish at 25-under 257 in the 100th edition of the rain-delayed tournament, where South Africans took the top four spots.

“It was a wonderful choice to come here,” said Els, who also won here in 1992, 1996, 1998 and 2006. “... Playing under a lot of pressure, with really good players in the field on a great golf course. It was a great championship.”

Goosen also shot a 66 in fourth round of the European Tour event co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour.

“We have played against each other since we were kids, “Els said of Goosen, “and I know he’s a very good player.”

British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen also had a 66 to finish third, four shots behind Els, and Charl Schwartzel was fourth, seven shots back, after a 67.

In the third round played Sunday morning, Els had three bogeys on his first five holes, but recovered with seven birdies to stay one shot ahead of Goosen.

“I had a two-shot lead at the start of the day and then after five holes I was three behind and then I was one up again after 18 holes,” Els said. “So it was just an incredible day.”

Robert Rock finished with successive 64s to be the highest placed European, finishing in a tie for fifth with Romain Wattel of France (65) in the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour.

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