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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 July, 2004, 18:25 GMT 19:25 UK
Hamilton grabs shock win
By Rob Hodgetts
BBC Sport at Royal Troon

Todd Hamilton
-10 *T Hamilton (US), E Els (SA)
-9 P Mickelson (US)
-6 L Westwood (Eng)
-5 D Love (US), T Levet (Fra)
-4 S Verplank (US), R Goosen (SA)
-3 M Weir (Can), T Woods (US)
-2 D Clarke (NIr), M Calcavecchia (US), S Kendall (US)
*Hamilton wins in play-off
Little-known American Todd Hamilton beat Ernie Els in a play-off to clinch the Open title at Royal Troon.

The pair tied at 10 under when Hamilton bogeyed the last but he bounced back to win the four-hole play-off by a shot.

Masters champion Phil Mickelson was third on nine under, with England's Lee Westwood fourth on his own at six under after a closing 67.

Tiger Woods finished at three under and local hero Colin Montgomerie ended up a disappointing two over after a 76.

The 38-year-old Hamilton won his first major title after Els pulled his tee shot en route to a bogey at the short 17th, the third extra hole.

The pair shared pars at the first and second holes and Els was unable to force a tying birdie on the 18th.

Hamilton, the overnight leader, began the day at eight under, one clear of playing partner Els in the last group.

He slipped back with a bogey on the par-four second but the world number 56 was not overawed by the superstars in the groups just in front of him and clawed shots back at the fourth and fifth.

He stumbled briefly at the 10th as Mickelson, who had joined him in the lead at the fourth and then again at the seventh, went ahead on his own at nine under.

I could play this course every day for the rest of my life - it was a blast
Todd Hamilton

But Hamilton birdied the 11th and 14th to go two clear as Mickelson fell back at 13 before closing to within one stroke after a birdie at the 16th.

Hamilton, though, fended off his more illustrious opponent with a birdie of his own at 16 to reach 11 under, as Els took over the chase and closed to within one at the same hole.

Els, who won the Open at Muirfield in 2002 and was second in 2000 and 1996, began the day at seven under and went out in two-under-par before a double bogey at the 10th seemed to have scuppered his chances.

But birdies at 13, 16 and 17 kept him in touch, and when Hamilton bogeyed the last hole via the right and then left rough, Els was left with an eight-footer for victory, which he missed to set up the play-off.

The South African, who could have become world number one if he had won and Woods had finished outside the top 17, was also pipped to this year's Masters title when Mickelson birdied the last hole to win.

Phil Mickelson
Mickelson enjoyed a share of the lead before dropping back

The Masters champion ended with a second-straight 68, while former European number one Westwood continued his recent renaissance with a closing 67 to record his best-ever Open finish, beating his tie for 10th, also at Troon, in 1997.

The 31-year-old began at two under but after falling back to level par at the fifth, blazed three straight birdies to reach the turn in 35. He then picked up three more shots on the more difficult back nine to set a challenging target in the clubhouse.

America's Love came from nowhere with a final-round 67 to finish alongside France's Thomas Levet, the joint first-round leader, who only qualified late last Sunday when he won the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.

US Open champion Retief Goosen was unable to get on a roll and carded a two-over 73 to sit at four under with American Scott Verplank (71).

One stroke behind was Canada's former Masters champion Mike Weir and Woods, who picked up two shots to advance to six under by the sixth but handed strokes back at the tricky 11th, 12th and 17th holes.

Montgomerie, meanwhile, improved to four under at the fourth but back-to-back bogeys at nine and 10 and doubles at 13 and 17 sunk his cause.

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke ended strongly with a 68 to head a trio on two under alongside America's 1989 Troon Open winner Mark Calcavecchia and second-round leader Skip Kendall, also of America.

Watch final day Open highlights

Interview: Todd Hamilton

Interview: Ernie Els

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