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.