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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 October, 2004, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Els passes Woods with win
FINAL LEADERBOARD
Ernie Els
-18 E Els (SA)
-17 T Bjorn (Den)
-13 D Howell (GB)
-12 D Clarke (GB), S Garcia (Sp)
-11 R Goosen (SA), P Harrington (Ire), T Hamilton (US)
Ernie Els displaced Tiger Woods as world number two after negotiating atrocious conditions to seal a one-shot win at 18-under in the WGC in Ireland.

The smooth-swinging South African birdied two of the first three holes but Thomas Bjorn remained in touch.

Bjorn had three birdies in the first five and was only one behind with an eagle chance at the 17th, only to three putt as Els calmly made his birdie.

David Howell finished third to move into the top 10 in the Order of Merit.

Despite driving rain and a howling gale sweeping across the course, the Irish fans still turned out in their droves to watch the world's elite.

And it was Darren Clarke who made the quickest start, holing his second shot with a wedge from 110 yards for an eagle at the opening hole.

Clarke, who was three-over after one-and-a-half rounds, had another eagle chance at the fifth but from seven feet his ball lipped out and he had to settle for a birdie, eventually finishing with a 68 for a share of fourth at 12-under the card.

Just playing four rounds I'm pretty proud of that
Tiger Woods

Padraig Harrington, joint third overnight, three-putted the fourth and was never able to find his rhythm, closing with a round of 73 to tie for sixth.

US Open champion Retief Goosen dropped three shots in four holes from the 13th to finish alongside Harrington, and Open champion Todd Hamilton.

Woods, plagued with a shoulder injury for the entire week, remains without a strokeplay victory this year after returning a commendable final round 70 to finish ninth at 10-under.

"I was playing pretty well coming in this week but just playing four rounds I'm pretty proud of that," said Woods, who produced a masterful pitch to 18 inches at the 17th to set up his fourth birdie of the day.

Referring to his injury he said: "I've got to heal this thing up. Doing workouts three times a day is no way to take care of business.

"I'm ready to go diving. I'm ready to hop in that water and shoot some fish," added Woods, who is bound for a holiday in Barbados.

But the 28-year-old said nothing about rumours he is set to marry his Swedish girlfriend Elin Nordegren.

Bjorn had not dropped a shot since the 14th hole in the third round, until he came to the par-three again and bunkered his tee shot.

I'm still number two but I'm in a much better frame of mind. It's game on
Ernie Els
Two behind coming to the final hole, Bjorn hit the green in regulation whilst Els found a difficult stance in a greenside bunker.

The Dane was unable to hole from 20 feet and Els could afford the luxury of a dropped shot after a rare indifferent escape from the sand left him eight feet away.

The victory marked a change in fortune for Els, who was second at the Masters and the Open, ninth at the US Open and fourth at the USPGA.

"There was more pressure on me than anybody and I feel great," he said.

"Everybody knows what I've gone through and this is kind of a new start for me. I want to get going again.

"Number two is nice, but I'm still number two. It looks like I've got to chase Vijay now, but I'm in a much better frame of mind. It's game on."


SEE ALSO
Els stays out in front
02 Oct 04  |  Golf
Els captures two-shot lead
01 Oct 04  |  Golf
Woods to battle on
30 Sep 04  |  Golf
New venue for WGC event
03 Oct 04  |  Golf


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