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Last Updated: Monday, 19 July, 2004, 06:04 GMT 07:04 UK
Hamilton revels in Open win
New Open champion Todd Hamilton
Open champion Todd Hamilton could barely contain his delight after edging out world number two Ernie Els in a four-hole play-off at Royal Troon.

"It's a very special feeling," said the 38-year-old after his first-ever triumph in a major.

"Just now I'm more tired than excited, but I'm sure the excited part will kick in once I spend time with my family.

"I felt very calm the whole day. I'm usually a nervous guy, but sometimes it seems almost fun."

Hamilton looked to have wasted his chance at glory, making a mess of his approach to the last hole of the fourth round, giving Els the chance to hole a putt for the championship.

But Els missed the tricky putt to force the play-off, and Hamilton held his nerve to win by a single shot.

"If Ernie had made his putt on the 72nd I would have been disappointed, but still very happy," said Hamilton.

"If you'd told me at the start of the week 'We'll give you second place and you don't have to bother showing up', I'd probably have said 'OK'."

I'm going to be thinking about that putt on the 72nd hole for a while
Ernie Els
Hamilton said the victory - which earned him 720,000 - was far and away the biggest of his career.

"It was obviously a great experience for me," he said.

"I've won tournaments around the world before but nothing on a stage like this. I was trying to look around as much as I could to soak it all in. So to be Open champion is very special."

Hamilton revealed his strategy had been to steer clear of bunkers and trust in his short game.

"The best part of my game is chipping and especially putting. I've always been blessed with good hand-eye coordination," he said.

"I don't hit the ball as good as a lot of well-known players but having a good short game allows me to be competitive.

"I play what I call ugly golf - I hit a lot of punch shots, a lot of big slices off the tee, just to keep the ball in play, and then rely on my chipping and putting.

"It was a lot of hard work and Ernie is a true champion. He fought to the very end, not only in regulation but in the play-off. But I'm so excited I probably won't sleep for two days."




WATCH AND LISTEN
Watch final day Open highlights



Interview: Ernie Els



Interview: Todd Hamilton





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