How Ernie Els Won the 2012 British Open
Third-round leader Adam Scott bogeyed his final four holes, opening the door for Ernie Els to win his fourth major championship – and first since the 2002 British Open. Els, who began the day six strokes behind Scott, posted a 4-under 32 on the closing nine, including a birdie on the par-4 18th hole, to card a final-round 2-under 68 and one-stroke victory over Scott (75).
In 2012, victors have come back from deficits of:
8 – Kyle Stanley Waste Management Phoenix Open
7 – Brandt Snedeker Farmers Insurance Open
7 – John Huh Mayakoba Golf Classic
6 – Phil Mickelson AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
6 – Marc Leishman Travelers Championship
6 – Ernie Els British Open
With Ernie Els’ Victory
Els, at the age of 42 years, 9 months and 5 days, wins for the 19th time on the PGA TOUR in his 335th start. Is the second-consecutive 42-year-old to win the event (Darren Clarke/2011).
Owns multiple wins at the British Open (2002, 2012) and the U.S. Open (1994, 1997).
Three of seven top-3s at the Open have come at Royal Lytham & St. Annes (W-2012, T2-1996, T3-2001).
Becomes the 16th different winner in the last 16 major championships. The last time 16 consecutive major championships were won by 16 different players was 1984-1987, starting at the 1984 Masters Tournament and ending with the 1987 PGA Championship.
Snaps a streak of three-consecutive wins by Americans in majors.
Snaps a string of nine consecutive first-time winners in major championships.
Enshrined into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011, becomes the first male Hall of Fame member to win a major after being inducted since Lee Trevino was inducted in 1981 and later won the 1984 PGA Championship. The only other players to win a major after being inducted are Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
Extends his exemption on the PGA TOUR through 2017 and earns a five-year exemption to the Masters, U.S. Open, PGA Championship and PLAYERS Championship, if not otherwise exempt.
Collects 600 points and projected to move from No. 33 into the top 10 in FedExCup standings (1402 points).
Became the second British Open winner in the last 20 years to birdie the final hole in the final round. Stewart Cink in 2009 was the other (Elias Sports provided note).
Span of 10 years between wins (2002, 2012) is the second largest span between victories in British Open history. Sir Henry Cotton holds the record with 11 years between 1937 to 1948.
Six-shot come-from-behind win is the largest at the British Open and in a major championship since Padraig Harrington came back from the same deficit at the 2007 British Open.
Only player this week to post all four rounds at par-or-better (67-70-68-68) in his 22nd start at the British Open. The win comes in his 79thmajor championship appearance.
Records the ninth-consecutive come-from-behind victory on the PGA TOUR.
Notches his 13th top-10 finish in 22 starts at the British Open.
Had three rounds in the 60s this week, giving him the most rounds in the 60s in British Open history (39-Ernie Els, 37-Nick Faldo, 33-Jack Nicklaus).
Nine of his 22 top-5 finishes in major championships have occurred at the British Open.
Here’s how Els stands in the British Open record books for most under-par rounds since 1963: 59 (Jack Nicklaus), 53 (Nick Faldo), 48 (Ernie Els), 45 (Tom Watson).
After missing the cut in his British Open debut in 1989, Els finished outside of the top 30 just once (T34-2005) in 18 consecutive appearances between 1992 and 2009, including 12 top-10s and eight top-5s. This year marked his 19th made cut in 22 starts at the Open, snapping a streak of two-consecutive misses (2010-11).
Countries Represented - Winners of the British Open:
United States (27 winners, 42 wins)
Scotland (22 winners, 41 wins)
England (14 winners, 28 wins)
South Africa (5 winners, 10 wins)
Australia (4 winners, 9 wins)
Northern Ireland (2 winners, 2 wins)
Spain (1 winner, 3 wins)
Republic of Ireland (1 winner, 2 wins)
Argentina (1 winner, 1 win)
France (1 winner, 1 win)
New Zealand (1 winner, 1 win)
Zimbabwe (1 winner, 1 win)
Els’ Weekly statistics:
Driving Distance 298.12 yards 13
Driving Accuracy 35 of 56 (62.5%) T43
Greens in Regulation 57 of 72 (79.2%) 1
Total Putts 122 T71
Sand Saves 2/6 (33.33%) T60
About Ernie Els
Birthdate: October 17, 1969
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Resides: West Palm Beach, FL
Family: Wife, Liezl; Samantha (6/26/99), Ben (10/6/02)
Height, Weight: 6-3, 210
Turned Pro: 1989
Joined PGA TOUR: 1994
Adam Scott, 2nd
Adam Scott carried a four-stroke lead into the final round, but bogeyed the final four holes en route to a 5-over 75, falling by one stroke to Ernie Els. It is the second-straight year he has carded a final-round 75 at the British Open.
Scott was seeking his first major championship in his 191st start on the PGA TOUR. The runner-up finish equals his best finish in 46 major championship starts (T2 at the 2011 Masters).
The runner-up finish is the ninth for Scott on the PGA TOUR, to go along with his eight wins.
In comparison to his four-stroke 54-hole lead, the largest lead held by a player who did not go on to win the Open is six strokes (Abe Mitchell/1920). Two players (MacDonald Smith/1925 and Jean Van de Velde/1999) held five-stroke leads.
Was seeking to become the fifth Australian winner at the British Open: Peter Thomson (5 wins), Greg Norman (2), Kel Nagle (1) and Ian Baker-Finch (1).
Records his second top-10 finish in 13 starts at the British Open (2nd-2012, T8-2006).
Falls to six of nine when entering the final round on TOUR with at least a share of the lead:
2003 Deutsche Bank Championship
2004 PLAYERS Championship
2004 Booz Allen Classic
2006 HP Byron Nelson Championship
2006 TOUR Championship
2007 FedEx St. Jude Classic
2008 HP Byron Nelson Championship
2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
2012 British Open
Finished inside the top 15 in the season’s first three majors: (2nd-British Open, T8-Masters, T15-U.S. Open).
The 54-hole leader in the last 11 Major Championships
Tournament 54-hole leader R4 Finish
2010 Masters Lee Westwood 71 2nd
2010 U.S. Open Dustin Johnson 82 T8
2010 British Louis Oosthuizen 71 won
2010 PGA Nick Watney 81 T18
2011 Masters Rory McIlroy 80 T15
2011 U.S. Open Rory McIlroy 69 won
2011 British Darren Clarke 70 won
2011 PGA Jason Dufner/Brendan Steele 69/77 P2/T19
2012 Masters Peter Hanson 73 T3
2012 U.S. Open Graeme McDowell/Jim Furyk 73/74 T2/T4
2012 British Adam Scott 75 2
Final-Round Leader Stats
Dating to the 1958 British Open, the 54-hole leader/co-leader has prevailed 30 times in 55 attempts, including Darren Clarke in 2011 and Louis Oosthuizen in 2010.
The third-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win just nine of 30 stroke-play events on the PGA TOUR in 2012, most recently Jason Dufner at HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Lowest final round at Lytham: 65, by Seve Ballesteros (1988), Jeff Maggert (1996) and Niclas Colsaerts (2012).
In the 11 British Opens hosted at Royal Lytham & St Annes, the third-round leader has gone on to win six times (David Duval/2001, Tom Lehman/1996, Gary Player/1974, Tony Jacklin/1969, Bob Charles/1963, Peter Thomson/1958). Come-from-behind wins were posted by Ernie Els/2012, Seve Ballesteros/1979/1988, Bobby Locke/1952, Bobby Jones/1926).
Tiger Woods, T3
Three-time British Open champion and FedExCup leader Tiger Woods recorded a final-round 3-over 73 to finish T3 (best finish in a major since runner-up at 2009 PGA). This week marked his 13th major championship start since his last major win at the 2008 U.S. Open (it is the 17thmajor played since that victory).
Woods, who moves to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings, suffered a triple bogey on the par-4 sixth hole, his first triple in a major championship since the first hole at the 2003 British Open (Royal St. George’s).
Woods was seeking his 15th major championship victory in his 65th start (59 professional, 6 amateur) in a major. His last British Open appearance led to a T23 finish in 2010.
This week was Woods’ 24th top-3 finish in a major, with 14 wins, six runner-up and four third-place finishes.
Woods, the current FedExCup leader and season’s only three-time winner, recently won the AT&T National for his 74th career TOUR victory at the age of 36 years, 6 months and 2 days in his 285th (271st professional) career start. The 74 wins helped him surpass Jack Nicklaus for second all-time on TOUR, trailing only Sam Snead (82).
Woods has never come from behind to win a major championship. Entering the final round in his 71 stroke-play victories, he has held/shared the lead 48 times and come-from-behind 23 times. (Note: Woods trailed after 36 holes at the 1997 Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He was then tied with Tom Lehman after 54 holes when weather shortened the event to three rounds, leading to a playoff win by Woods over Lehman.).
Brandt Snedeker, T3
Brandt Snedeker finished T3 in his fourth British Open, having missed the cut in his first three (2008-09, 2011). He began the week by playing his first 40 holes without a bogey, the longest bogey-free streak to start a major championship in the last 20 years.
Snedeker entered the final round trailing Adam Scott by four strokes. He was bidding for his fourth comeback victory in as many attempts on the PGA TOUR, coming back from seven strokes (2012 Farmers Insurance Open), six strokes (2011 RBC Heritage) and five strokes (2007 Wyndham Championship).
Snedeker has just one missed cut (THE PLAYERS) in 14 starts this season. He posted the third win of his career (158 starts) earlier this year at the Farmers Insurance Open.
This is the 20th major championship of Snedeker’s career, with four top-10 finishes (T3-2012 British Open, T3- 2008 Masters, T8-2010 U.S. Open, T9-2008 U.S. Open).
Graeme McDowell, T5
Graeme McDowell, winner of the 2010 U.S. Open, finished T5 in his attempt to become the first player since Angel Cabrera (2007 U.S. Open, 2009 Masters) to claim major championships as his first two PGA TOUR wins. Prior to that, the last person to do so was Peter Thomson, who won the British Open in 1954-55.
McDowell (T5) earns his 10th top-20 finish in his last 17 major championship starts (11/17 top 25s). He has finished no worse than 12th in this year’s majors: Masters (T12), U.S. Open (T2), British Open (T5).
McDowell was seeking the fourth major championship by a player from Northern Ireland in the last 10 Majors (McDowell/2010 U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy/2011 U.S. Open, Darren Clarke/2011 British Open). Two players from Northern Ireland have won the British Open: Darren Clarke (2011) and Fred Daly (1947).
McDowell made his ninth start at the Open this week, with his T5 topping his previous-best finish of T11 in 2005.
Zach Johnson, T9
Zach Johnson finished T9 in his attempt to become the 11th player since 1934 to win on the PGA TOUR the week before winning a major, with Lee Trevino the only player performing the feat at the British Open:
2007 Tiger Woods won WGC-Bridgestone Invitational followed by PGA Championship
2006 Phil Mickelson won BellSouth Classic followed by Masters
1988 Sandy Lyle won Greater Greensboro Open followed by the Masters
1971 Lee Trevino won the Canadian Open followed by the British Open
1959 Art Wall won the Azalea Open followed by the Masters
1949 *Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open followed by the Masters
1946 *Ben Hogan won the Winnipeg Open followed by the PGA
1945 *Byron Nelson won the Chicago Victory Open followed by the PGA
1939 Ralph Guldahl won the Greater Greensboro Open followed by the Masters
1939 *Henry Picard won the Scranton Open followed by the PGA
*No event scheduled the week after first win. Major was the next event contested
Matt Kuchar, T9
Matt Kuchar finished T9 in his bid to join Jack Nicklaus (1978) as the only players to win THE PLAYERS Championship and British Open in the same season. A total of eight players have won The PLAYERS Championship and British Open during their careers: Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman, Justin Leonard, Tiger Woods, Nick Price and David Duval.
Kuchar’s T9 is his TOUR-leading seventh top-10 finish. He made his TOUR-leading 22nd straight made cut his week, with Jason Dufner (who finished T31 this week) making his 15th straight (second best on TOUR).
Mark Calcavecchia, T9
Mark Calcavecchia, who posted his second-career Champions Tour victory earlier this season at the Montreal Championship, finished T9 in his 26th British Open (19 made cuts). It is his first top 10 at the event since finishing T10 in 1997. This week represents his best finish at Royal Lytham & St Annes, having missed the cut in 1988, T40 in 1996 and T54 in 2001.
Mark Calcavecchia turned 52 years, 1 month and 10 days old on Sunday. By comparison, Julius Boros is the oldest major winner at 48 years, 4 months, 18 days when victorious at the 1968 PGA Championship. The oldest winner of the British Open is Tom Morris Sr. (46 years, 3 months, 9 days in 1867).
Bubba Watson, T23
Masters champ Bubba Watson finished T23 in his attempt to become the ninth player to win the Masters and British Open in the same season: Ben Hogan (1953), Arnold Palmer (1962), Jack Nicklaus (1966), Gary Player (1974), Tom Watson (1977), Nick Faldo (1990), Mark O’Meara (1998) and Tiger Woods (2005).
Tom Watson, T77
Tom Watson, who made the cut for the 99th time in 135 major championship starts, finished T77. This week marked his 25th made cut in 35 British Open starts, including six out of his last eight starts dating to 2003. The 62-year-old Watson is a five-time winner of the British Open (1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983).
Most Open starts: 46 (Gary Player), 38 (Jack Nicklaus, Sandy Herd), 37 (Sandy Lyle), 35 (Ben Sayers, Tom Watson).
Darren Clarke, MC
Defending champion Darren Clarke missed the cut this week, becoming the seventh player to defend his title but not make the cut: Tom Watson (1976, made first cut, but not second cut), Mark Calcavecchia (1990), Mark O’Meara (1999), Paul Lawrie (2000), Ben Curtis (2004), Todd Hamilton (2005) and Clarke (2012).
Just six players have consecutive British Open victories since 1951: Padraig Harrington (2007-08), Tiger Woods (2005-06), Tom Watson (1982-83), Lee Trevino (1971-72), Arnold Palmer (1961-62) and Peter Thomson (1954-56). Sixteen players have performed the feat throughout Open history.
Additional Player Notes
Matthew Baldwin and James Morrison, both at T23, enjoyed the best finish by a first-timer at the British Open. Just nine players have won the Open in their first appearance: Ben Curtis (2003), Tom Watson (1975), Tony Lema (1964), Ben Hogan (1953), Denny Shute (1933), Jock Hutchison (1921), Mungo Park (1874), Tom Kidd (1873) and Willie Park Sr. (1860).
Both Alan Dunbar and Manuel Trappel missed the cut in their attempt to become just the fourth amateur to win the British Open. Three amateurs have won the British Open a total of six times: Bobby Jones (1926, 1927, 1930), Harold Hilton (1892, 1897) and John Ball Jr. (1890).
Niclas Colsaerts posted bookend 65s to finish T7 in his second Open start (missed the cut in 2004). In the last 30 years at the British Open, only one other player has posted two or more rounds of 65 or lower in a single tournament (Tom Watson in 2009).
Anirban Lahiri (T31) posted the only hole-in-one of the week, doing so on the par-3 ninth hole on Saturday. It was the 24th ace at the British Open since 1981 and the fourth at Royal Lytham & St Annes during that time: Lanny Wadkins (1988/#1), Paul McGinley (1996/#9), Frank Lickliter II (2001/#5), Anirban Lahiri (2012/#9).
Making his 56th start in a major championship (and making his 11th straight made cut), Steve Stricker finished T23 for his seventh top-25 finish in his last eight starts in major championships. His career-best finish in a Major was runner-up honors at the 1998 PGA Championship.
Luke Donald, who entered the week ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, finished T5 in his 12th British Open appearance. After missing the cut in his first five starts (1999, 2000, 2002-04), he has since reeled off six of seven made cuts (including 2012), with best finishes in 2012 (T5), 2009 (T5) and 2010 (T11).
With 18 pars, Vijay Singh managed the only bogey-free round on Sunday with an even-par 70. He finished T9 in his 80th major championship appearance this week. It is his first top 10 in a major since finishing T6 at the 2006 U.S. Open. His 70 on Sunday was his 51st round at par-or-better in 23 starts at the British Open.
Making his 80th start in a major championship (19 at the British Open), Phil Mickelson missed the cut this week for just the eighth time in a major championship. It is just his third miss since 2000 (2007 U.S. Open, 2007 & 2012 British Open).
David Duval, winner of the 2001 British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, missed the cut earlier this week with rounds of 74-71. In 2001, he posted rounds of 69-73-65-67 for the last of his 13 PGA TOUR victories.
Davis Love III, 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, missed the cut this week following a 9-over 79 on Friday, just one shy of his worst score in 82 total rounds at the British Open. He made his 26th straight British Open appearance (dating to his start at Muirfield in 1987).
Past British Open Champions
Ernie Els 67-70-68-68—273 1
Tiger Woods 67-67-70-73—277 T3
Mark Calcavecchia 71-68-69-72—280 T9
Louis Oosthuizen 72-68-68-73—281 T19
Paul Lawrie 65-71-76-72—284 T34
Padraig Harrington 70-72-70-73—285 T39
Tom Watson 71-72-76-73—292 T77
John Daly 72-71-77-74—294 T81
Stewart Cink 72-73—145 (MC)
David Duval 74-71—145 (MC)
Tom Lehman 73-72—145 (MC)
Todd Hamilton 72-74—146 (MC)
Sandy Lyle 74-72—146 (MC)
Darren Clarke 76-71—147 (MC)
Justin Leonard 75-73—148 (MC)
Ben Curtis 75-74—149 (MC)
The cut this week came at 3-over 143 – equaling the lowest in British Open history since 1898 – with 83 players advancing. Dating to 1898, this marks the eighth time the cut has been 143, including last year at Royal St George’s. It was also 143 at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1996.
Heading into Sunday, Adam Scott (75) and Graeme McDowell (75) were the only players with a chance to post all four rounds in the 60s this week. The British Open has had three champions with all four rounds in the 60s: Greg Norman (1993), Nick Price (1994) and Tiger Woods (2000).
The last 15 Major Championships have been won by 15 different players. Here’s how they currently stand:
Year Winner Major 2012 British
2012 Webb Simpson U.S. Open Not playing
2012 Bubba Watson Masters T23
2011 Keegan Bradley PGA T34
2011 Darren Clarke British Open MC
2011 Rory McIlroy U.S. Open T60
2011 Charl Schwartzel Masters MC
2010 Martin Kaymer PGA MC
2010 Louis Oosthuizen British Open T19
2010 Graeme McDowell U.S. Open T5
2010 Phil Mickelson Masters MC
2009 Y.E. Yang PGA MC
2009 Stewart Cink British Open MC
2009 Lucas Glover U.S. Open MC
2009 Angel Cabrera Masters MC
2008 Padraig Harrington PGA T39
Active consecutive major appearances (including the 2012 British Open):
Player Starts Finish
Sergio Garcia 53 MC
Adam Scott 45 2
K.J. Choi 42 T39
Stewart Cink 38 MC
Jim Furyk 34 T34
Zach Johnson 34 T9
Four members of the Champions Tour competed this week:
Player 2012 British Open Starts Best finish
Mark Calcavecchia T9 26 Won (1989)
Tom Watson T77 35 Won (1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983)
Tom Lehman MC 19 Won (1996)
Sandy Lyle MC 37 Won (1985)
R1: Brandt Snedeker (66), Anirban Lahiri (68), Bob Estes (69)
R2: Brandt Snedeker (64), Jason Dufner (66)
R4: Vijay Singh (70)
Rounds in the 60s:
R1: 36 (record is 50 at Turnberry in 2009)
R2: 30 (record is 47 at Turnberry in 1994)
R3: 16 (record is 42 at Turnberry in 1994)