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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 July, 2004, 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK
Els salutes new champion
By Jamie Lillywhite
BBC Sport at Royal Troon

Ernie Els
Ernie Els was full of praise for Todd Hamilton after the American eclipsed him in the four-hole play-off.

"He played wonderful, he kept his nerve when he needed to and I know how much he's going to enjoy it," Els conceded.

"I always wanted to fight, I obviously made a big mistake on 10 with a double bogey but I didn't want to let it go.

"I didn't have a great play-off but I had a great week, the golf course was great, the R&A was great and we have a great champion."

The world number two added: "I've got to give credit to Todd. He obviously had a game plan and he stuck to his guns.

"He played conservatively and it worked out for him this time. His ball flight is beautiful for this type of golf course and he's got a great short game.
If Ernie had made his putt on the 72nd I would have been disappointed, but still very happy
Todd Hamilton

"I felt that conditions were such that I could be aggressive and get after the par-fives and get close on the par-fours."

Els clawed his way back into contention on the back nine and had a 12ft putt for the title when playing partner Hamilton took a bogey-five on the 18th.

But the South African missed to spark a four-hole play-off and he lost by a shot after a bogey at the third extra hole.

"I'm going to be thinking about that putt on the 72nd hole for a while," he said.

"Obviously I didn't start the back nine how I wanted to but I played very well coming in and getting back in the race was a hell of an effort. But I still came up short."

Watch final day Open highlights

Interview: Ernie Els

Interview: Todd Hamilton

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