Els rides blistering start and good luck to victory
Brian Creighton - Sunday, 7 September, 2003
and slipped to third place.
Karlsson compiled a 72 and had to share fourth spot with Andrew Coltart of Scotland, who finished off with a 67, and Emanuele Canonica of Italy, who scored 70. Michael Campbell of New Zealand, a factor for two rounds before a third-day 73 pushed him out of contention, stormed back to take second place with a 66.
Els finished the tournament with a 17-under-par total of 267, with Campbell on 273 and Romero on 274.
Els began brilliantly and then got lucky. At the fifth hole his second shot clipped trees and finished resting next to a bench.
He was entitled to a free drop and took two more when he line to the green was obscured by some advertising hoardings. He then pitched to 30 feet and holed for par.
At the 12th hole, his wayward drive was heading for trouble but hit a spectator on the head and rebounded onto the fairway. Els said the man sported a shiner on his head, he did not appear to be badly hurt. Els won four tournaments out of six at the start of the year, including the first two on the U.S. Tour, and he said his form now was close to what it was then.
"I eventually got my putting stroke sorted out. If I had putted like this at the (U.S.) PGA last month I could have been in with a chance," he said.
"I ve worked hard on my swing and the 64 in Germany last week and coming in here low-key on Wednesday this week, I felt my swing was better again."
He added that six wins made it a great year, even if they did not include a major title. "This is a special win, my first on the continent," he said.
Romero, the 49-year-old Argentine who would have become the European Tour s oldest champion had he won, blamed his putting for an uninspired display.
"I putted terrible. I started by three-putting the first," the winner in 1994 and 2000 said. "I didn t play too badly and had good chances for birdies but missed them all. I tried my hardest to win but it wasn t to be and third place is pretty good. Ernie had a great start."
Coltart s fourth place was his fourth top-five finish in his last five tournaments. He capped his round by driving the green at the 330-yard seventh hole and sinking a 20-foot putt for eagle.
"It s been another good week and I m delighted with my performance again," said the former Ryder Cup player, who as a result of his finish leads the standings for next year s team after one event of the year-long qualfying programme.