win not so easy for els

MIAMI - Ernie Els felt relief more than exhilaration after beating his house guest, South African countryman Charl Schwartzel, to win the $8,5million (R62,4million) CA Championship by four strokes.

MIAMI - Ernie Els felt relief more than exhilaration after beating his house guest, South African countryman Charl Schwartzel, to win the $8,5million (R62,4million) CA Championship by four strokes.

"This means so much. I didn't think it was ever going to happen again," Els said after producing a bogey-free, six-under-par 66 final round to end a two-year victory drought.

Els and Schwartzel turned the World Golf Championships event into a South African showdown in a demanding breeze at Doral's Blue Monster.

They started the final round tied and though Els never trailed, he took a long time to put away his much younger countryman, the final duo being level with eight holes remaining.

But the 14th hole proved pivotal as Els sank a 25-foot par-saving putt to retain a one-shot lead before pulling away down the stretch for a victory that was not quite as comfortable as the final margin suggests.

Els finished at 18-under 270 with Schwartzel runner-up on 14-under after a final-round 70. Irishman Padraig Harrington, German Martin Kaymer and American Matt Kuchar were tied for third, three shots further back.

Els collected $1,4million (R10,2million) for his second WGC victory, his 17th on the PGA Tour, but he was not in a mood to make any bold predictions of future glory.

"I said too much last time I won," continued Els, who has blown a few tournaments in the past couple of years.

"I was a bit too cocky. I want to enjoy this one. This took so much work to win. The older you get, the tougher it becomes to win."

Els now has his sights firmly set on next month's Masters.

He has won three majors, but never at Augusta, where he has come close to claiming a green jacket more often than he cares to remember. - Sapa-AFP

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