Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Els Earns Title as Woods Is Relegated

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Els Earns Title as Woods Is Relegated

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Garrod

Ernie Els got the better of Thomas Bjorn yet again yesterday to win his first solo World Golf Championships title.

And on a horribly wet and windy day at Mount Juliet in County Kilkenny Els, nearly pounds 666,000 richer for his one-shot victory in the American Express championship, also punched another hole in Tiger Woods' season to forget.

By taking the crown with a closing round of 69 the South African relegates ninth-placed Woods ( now without a single stroke play title to his name ( to third in the world rankings.

"There was more pressure on me than anybody and I feel great," said Els, who had near-misses in all four majors this year.

It is less than a month since Woods' five-year reign at the top was ended by Vijay Singh, but if he wants something to remember 2004 for he may have found it. There are reports he is to marry Swedish fiancee Elin Nordegren on Barbados in days.

Twelve months ago Els had a 4&2 victory over Bjorn in the final of the HSBC world match play at Wentworth.

That earned him pounds 1m against the Dane's pounds 400,000 and the difference between first and second this time was over pounds 290,000. But do not feel too sorry for Bjorn as the two runners-up finishes netted him more than three-quarters of a million.

His 68 was the joint second best of the day, but it was not enough and Els could bogey the last after he had got up and down from short of the green for birdie at the long 17th and Bjorn had three-putted for par. England Ryder Cup debutant David Howell finished third on 13 under, five behind Els, and his cheque for almost pounds 250,000 was the biggest of his career.

Two more members of Europe's side last month, Darren Clarke and Sergio Garcia, shared fourth, but another, Padraig Harrington, failed to give the home fans what they wanted, slipping back from third overnight to joint sixth with Open champion Todd Hamilton and US Open champion Retief Goosen. …

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