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Page last updated at 23:50 GMT, Sunday, 14 March 2010

Nerveless Ernie Els clinches CA Championship title

FINAL LEADERBOARD:
-18 E Els (SA) -14 C Schwartzel (SA) -11 P Harrington (Ire), M Kaymer (Ger), M Kuchar (US) -10 A Presnell (Aus), B Haas (US), G McDowell (NI), P Casey (Eng), A Quiros (Esp) -9 J Senden (Aus), V Singh (Fiji), R Allenby (Aus) Selected others:-8 P Mickelson (US) -4 L Donald (Eng) -3 R McGowan (Eng), L Westwood (Eng) -2 I Poulter (Eng) -1 R Fisher (Eng) level S Dyson (Eng) +7 R McIlroy (NI) +8 O Wilson (Eng)


Ernie Els after winning the CA Championship
Els shares a moment with runner-up Charl Schwartzel

A superb final-round 66 from South Africa's Ernie Els saw off the challenge of Charl Schwartzel to secure the WGC-CA Championship title.

Els came home four shots clear of his compatriot on 18 under par to earn his first win since the 2008 Honda Classic.

Ireland's Padraig Harrington was unable to keep pace and a level-par round left him in a three-way tie for third.

England's Paul Casey was a shot further back on 10 under alongside Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell.

"I felt my game was in good shape. I just wanted to come out and prove it to myself," said Els, whose victory takes him back in front of Colin Montgomerie as the European Tour's leading career money-winner.

"I've got a take a lot of positives from this heading into the Masters next month."

606: DEBATE
mr_aleman

Els' victory comes just a week after he finished tied 67th in this year's Honda Classic and the 40-year-old believes the tweaks he made after that result have worked.

"I had to really trust those changes I made last weekend and today was a great day for it," said Els, whose 63rd professional title takes him back into the world's top 10.

"The wind was blowing and I had to come up with the goods."

Els began the day level with Schwartzel after missing some birdies opportunities in his previous round.

But the three-time major winner regained the momentum by picking up three shots on his opening four holes.

Schwartzel responded by stringing together three successive birdies from the sixth and Els had only a slender one-shot advantage as the pair reached the turn at Doral's Blue Monster course.

I just didn't have it and haven't had it for the last couple of weeks. I've a few issues to sort out when I get home

Rory McIlroy

Els' experience showed however as he ratcheted up the pressure on his rivals down the home straight.

He saved par from 24 feet on the 15th to stay one shot clear and made a successful escape from the sand on the next that Schwartzel could not match.

Els' birdies at 12 and 17 were surrounded by solid pars while his 25-year-old countryman ended up one over on his final nine and Harrington faltered with three successive bogies.

Three-time major winner Harrington said: "I obviously struggled a bit all day. Those three holes were pretty simple up and downs and I didn't make them.

"I was hanging on a knife-edge all day, but I learnt a few things - as you always do in these situations. My bunker play was just not with it and my pitching could have been a bit better. You don't really see it until you are under pressure."

Ian Poulter, who beat Casey in the final of the World Match Play last month, gave his confidence another shot in the arm with a closing 64, the joint best round of the tournament.

He was still only 37th, but having suffered a back strain on the eve of the event he was delighted the week was not a total write-off.

However, 20-year-old Rory McIlroy clearly has a lot of work to do after failing to break par all four days and finishing joint 65th of the 68 players.

He said: "I just didn't have it and haven't had it for the last couple of weeks. I've a few issues to sort out when I get home.

"The back isn't worrying me, but it's getting me down. Half of it is probably mental. I'm starting off in a negative mood."



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see also
Els takes lead at CA Championship
12 Mar 10 |  Golf
Casey makes solid start in Miami
11 Mar 10 |  Golf


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