Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Superb Els Makes It Six of the Best

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Superb Els Makes It Six of the Best

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Garrod

Ernie Els had a 35th birthday to remember forever at Wentworth yesterday. A two and one victory over an under-the-weather Lee Westwood completed with a 20-foot birdie putt earned the defending champion another pounds 1m ( the biggest cheque in golf ( but more importantly to him a record-breaking sixth World Match Play title.

It was the perfect end to a week in which he also clinched the European tour Order of Merit for the second successive year and overtook Colin Montgomerie as the circuit's leading money-winner in history with pounds 15m.

Seve Ballesteros and Gary Player were the two he joined on five wins last year and after moving past them Els hugged his two children Samantha and Ben, kissed his wife Liezl and said: "It's a brilliant feeling.

"No tournament has ever gone like this for me ever and I'm very grateful. Hopefully I will stay healthy and keep playing it. We live here and this is my true home course now."

Until three weeks ago this was going down as a nearly year for Els. He had chances to win all four majors, but was second in the Masters and the Open, losing a play-off at Troon, and missed out by a single stroke again at the US PGA.

He took some time off to get himself thinking positively once more and returned to win the American Express world championship in County Kilkenny.

Now he has a second hat-trick of wins over the West Course, having begun his Match Play career with three successive titles in 1994-96.

"I was complaining about all kinds of stuff and now I am definitely eating my words. It's turning out to be a great season."

The consolation for Westwood, who would not even have been playing the event if everyone who qualified had shown up, was pounds 400,000.

He was not helped by a chest infection and a virus which rather than clearing up during the marathon week ( he played 139 holes in four days ( got worse.

"I didn't feel too good today," said the Worksop golfer, who had beaten Els on their two previous clashes in the tournament.

"It wasn't the greatest golf you've ever seen and I made too many mistakes. …

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