Ernie Els: Where 2012 British Open Victory Ranks Among Golfer's Other Major Wins

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2012

LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND - JULY 22:  Ernie Els of South Africa poses with the Claret Jug after winning the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club on July 22, 2012 in Lytham St Annes, England.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Ernie Els' 2012 British Open championship this past weekend was by far the most impressive victory of his golfing career.

Els was completely under the radar until the final few holes at Royal Lytham & St. Annes during Sunday's final round. His superb play down the stretch and Adam Scott's collapse on the final four holes (Scott bogeyed each) opened the door for the South African to win his second career Open Championship and fourth career major tournament.


Best of Them All

Although Els has had some dramatic, heart-pounding victories in majors throughout his career, none of those compare to this summer's championship, which proved he still belongs among the sport's elite players, having now won a major in three different decades. 

It's hard to separate Els' four major wins though, considering that none were decided by more than one stroke and that two came via playoff victories. Els definitely lives life on the edge when it comes to major play, surviving tense situations and outlasting his competition with everything on the line.


Ending a Drought

Sunday's British Open win was classic Ernie Els, and after a decade of not winning a big-time tournament, he eliminated some demons en route to claiming the coveted Claret Jug for the second time in his career. Never before had Els gone so long without winning on golf's biggest stage. 

The 42-year-old went three years in between US Open wins from 1994 to 1997 and then five years before winning his third career major at the 2002 British Open. Sunday's Open Championship title ended a decade-long drought that had surely tested Els mentally and physically. 

Els now joins the short list of champions who have won twice at the British Open. That is certainly no easy task, as evidenced by Scott's collapse in an attempt to hold onto a comfortable lead. Ernie Els' victory at the 2012 British Open was unlike any of his career. He joins Phil Mickelson with four career majors and heads into the PGA Championship with a world of confidence, knowing that he can win even when all signs suggest he won't.


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