Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Champion Ernie out to Tame the Tiger

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Champion Ernie out to Tame the Tiger

Article excerpt

Byline: By Phil Casey

Open champion Ernie Els declared himself ready to take on Tiger Woods after cruising to his second Scottish Open title and fifth win of the year at Loch Lomond.

Els carded a final-round 69 for a 17-under-par total of 267, five shots clear of Ryder Cup team-mates Phil Price and Darren Clarke, with Ireland's Gary Murphy enjoying his best finish two shots back in fourth.

The world number two collected the winner's cheque for pounds 366,660 and could earn more than pounds 1m in the space of seven days if he can successfully defend his Open title at Sandwich.

The wire-to-wire victory also maintains Els' remarkable form on the European Tour this season, with three victories, two second places and three other top-six finishes in his eight strokeplay events so far.

The 33-year-old also won back-to-back tournaments in America at the start of the year and has a worst finish of joint 38th on either side of the Atlantic.

Ashington's Kenneth Ferrie finished 11 shots off the lead after closing rounds of 68 and 66.

"Tiger is the number one player in the world and we all know that," said Els, who had been anxious not to repeat blowing a 54-hole lead as he had done in Singapore and Dubai this season.

"But if I play the way I can and want to play, I can compete against him. I feel I am a different player from a couple of years ago and feel I can take up the challenge better than in the past.

"I've won a couple of times back to back this season and played well in the majors, so I have more confidence than I've had in a long time.

"The Open is a totally different week but I have confidence in my game."

Starting the day with a five-shot lead, Els dropped only his third shot of the week on the second hole, three-putting from long range, and a birdie from playing partner Clarke on the next reduced the gap to three shots. …

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