Magic and heartbreak, elation and disbelief. Once again the final day of the 141st Open Championship lived up to all expectations, presenting a thrilling display of golf which resulted in a very bittersweet ending. Australia's Adam Scott had a 4-shot lead at the 14th hole, however, by the 18th; he needed to par the final hole to finish at best in a playoff with South Africa's Ernie Els. How quickly things can change once the wind blows and the pressure mounts. Needless to say Scott fluffed his final put and ended the day with another bogey added to his card. No one could have predicted a series of dropped shots from Scott at the latter stages of his final round, especially given his steady performance during the front nine holes, and indeed throughout the championship. But then, if it had been me who needed to hole a put to be with the chance of becoming Open champion, I'd have missed it too.
It happened to Rory McIlroy in 2011, it happened to me back in 2006, and now, alas, it's happened to Adam Scott. Choking is a tendency which we all succumb to. Back in 2006, I almost gave up the game, and after watching the final stages of Adam Scott's round at Royal Lytham & St Annes, any dedicated golfer can probably relate in some way to his pain. It doesn't matter if you are putting to win a major championship, or attempting to make a birdie on the 18th hole at your local club - your heart still breaks. On the bright side, McIlroy fought back by winning his first major championship at Congressional by eight shots in the same year, so maybe Adam Scott can match his effort with a good performance in the forthcoming PGA Championship which takes place next month.
As with any other Open Championship, there is always a dash of excitement which now and again leads to a fairy-tale ending. Sad as I was to see Scott crumble, I couldn't help but feel elated as Ernie Els lifted the Claret Jug. Since he had the time to pose for a picture with me at the BMW Championship at Wentworth this year, I have had a soft spot for The Big Easy. What was so commending about Ernie's win was the fact that at the start of the day, he was not particularly tipped to walk away with the title. Instead, the talk revolved around Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell and Adam Scott, which gave Ernie the chance to silently climb the leaderboard away from the pressures and strains of being in the final pair. Back in May at the BMW Championship, Els showed signs that he was coming back to his best. I had thought that being in contention at Wentworth was perhaps down to the fact that he had helped to design the course, and previously lived a shadow away from the 16th hole on Wentworth's West course. However, it was no fluke. After winning his second Open Championship, ten years on from his success at Muirfield, Ernie Els has climbed back to the top once again and proved his place as a worthy major champion. Magic for Ernie, heartbreak for Adam...wouldn't it be boring if golf was a predictable game.
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