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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 September, 2003, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Els strolls to Masters title
Els made it four wins on the European tour this season
Els made it four wins on the European tour this season
Ernie Els rode his luck before cruising to a six-shot victory in the Omega European Masters.

The South African carded a final-round 65 for a 17 under total of 267 at Crans-sur-Sierre to claim the 185,000 first prize and increase his lead at the top of the Order of Merit to more than 400,000.

He finished ahead of New Zealand's Michael Campbell, with overnight leader Eduardo Romero a shot behind in third.

Els imposed his authority with four early birdies to pass Romero and then rode his luck before playing steadily over the closing holes.

"I lost a bit of rhythm after my brilliant start," said Els.

"But I finally got my putting stroke back this week. If I could have putted like this at the USPGA I would have been in with a chance."

Els has two big-money events left on the European Tour, the Dunhill Links Championship and WGC American Express Championship, to hold on to his lead in the Order of Merit.

"It's a little early but if I play the way I should play I should be fine," Els said. "Clarkey and Thomas Bjorn have got to win big ones now."

EUROPEAN MASTERS LEADERBOARD
-17 Ernie Els (SA)
-11 Michael Campbell (NZ)
-10 Eduardo Romero (Arg)
-9 Andrew Coltart (GB) Emanuele Canonica (Ita) Robert Karlsson (Swe)

Els needed two major slices of good fortune to record his fourth win on the European Tour this season.

The first came at the fifth when his second shot clipped the trees in front of him and ended up in the woods and resting next to a bench.

He was entitled to a free drop from there and claimed further relief because advertising boards were between him and the green, eventually ending up with a clear shot to the hole.

His pitch ran some 25 feet past the hole but he holed for the most unlikely of pars.

Els was fortunate again on the 12th, where a wayward drive was heading into trouble before striking a spectator on the head and bouncing back into the fairway.

Romero's challenge fell away as he could only card a 74, while Campbell was too far back for his round of 66 to seriously threaten Els.




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