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Page last updated at 17:41 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 18:41 UK

Ernie Els completes Arnold Palmer Invitational victory

FINAL LEADERBOARD:
-11 E Els (SA) -9 K Na (US), E Molinari (Ita) -8 R Goosen (SA), C Couch (US) -7 B Curtis (US)Selected others:-4 J Furyk (US) -2 KJ Choi (Kor) level B Davis (Eng) +2 P Mickelson (US) +5 C Montgomerie (Sco)


Ernie Els and Arnold Palmer
Els was presented with the trophy by Arnold Palmer himself

Ernie Els overcame some anxious moments to seal his second successive title with a two-shot victory in the delayed Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.

Els, who led by two with four holes left when play was halted because of storms on Sunday, limped home with four pars on Monday as Kevin Na threatened.

America's Na birdied the 16th to halve the gap but Els sank two key par putts and Na left his par effort at 18 short.

Els ended 11 under with Edoardo Molinari joining Na on nine under.

"It was a tough finish for me," conceded the 40-year-old Els. "I've been thinking about these last four holes for 22 hours so it was nice to finally get on the golf course.

"I kind of limped home but the work I have put in has started paying off, and obviously my short game is good. I got it up and down the last two holes."

606: DEBATE
BARCASPUR

Els added that victory on the testing Bay Hill course would give him plenty of confidence heading into the Masters, which starts on 8 April.

"The changes [to the course] are unbelievable, it really tests your ability coming in. If you win here you can feel comfortable in majors."

Els, who double-bogeyed the 13th and bogeyed the 14th to see his five-shot lead disappear, was among 21 players unable to complete his final round on Sunday.

And the South African, who won the WGC-CA Championship on his last outing, continued in untidy fashion on Monday's sodden fairways.

His chip at the 15th finished six feet short but he holed an important putt, while at the par-five 16th he drove into the woods and could only make a par.

Na drove into thick rough at the final hole and had to lay up short of the water that snakes around the entire banana-shaped green.

But hopes of a straightforward victory for Els receded when his tee shot at the par-three 17th finished short and was plugged in an awful lie in the sand.

He somehow dug it out about eight feet short and holed the clutch putt for a par, while Na saw his mid-range effort for a four at the last finish agonisingly on the edge of the cup.

Italy's Molinari, the former US Amateur champion, birdied 16 and moved to within two of the lead after a mammoth putt of more than 50 feet for a birdie at the 17th. He had a reasonable chance for another on the last but had to settle for a par and a round of 69.

After a magnificent drive at the final hole, Els pulled his second with only a short iron into more thick rough around the green.

But after chipping up to around seven feet the former Open and US Open champion proved his putting could handle the pressure by holing out impressively again for his 64th professional victory only 10 days before the Masters.

On Sunday, England's Brian Davis fired a final-round 70 and was 11 off the pace, with Scot Colin Montgomerie another five shots back following a 79.

KJ Choi went around in 73 and was tied for 17th place, meaning he will comfortably finish in the world's top 50 to seal his place at the Masters in Augusta in a fortnight's time.

Korean Choi had moved up to 48 in the world with his runner-up finish a week ago at the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook.

The other three players to qualify for the Masters through the world ranking are South African Charl Schwartzel, Alvaro Quiros of Spain and Thai Thongchai Jaidee.



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see also
Els tops leaderboard at Bay Hill
27 Mar 10 |  Golf
Els shares joint lead at Bay Hill
26 Mar 10 |  Golf
Holmes & Love boost Masters hopes
26 Mar 10 |  Golf
International Open leaderboard
07 Sep 09 |  Live scores
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf
Nerveless Els clinches CA title
14 Mar 10 |  Golf


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