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  Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 00:03 GMT
Els defies inner demons
Ernie Els holds the famous Open Claret Jug
Els had some nervy moments on his way to winning
Open champion Ernie Els admitted that he had to slay his inner demons to win the first sudden death play-off in Open championship history at Muirfield.

"I've got a little Jekyll and Hyde to me when it comes to my golfing," said the South African, who had squandered a two-shot lead with six holes to go.

I'm proud of myself for getting this one

Ernie Els

Els won the subsequent play-off but admitted he was struggling to banish the negative thoughts he was hearing from "the little guy" perched on his shoulder.

"I guess I'll never get rid of him," said the 32-year-old.

"This week I had a couple of chances to break away and the little guy just kept sitting on my shoulder.

"Every time I wanted to do that, I made a mistake. Even in the last play-off hole, I got him back again.

Steve Elkington at the Open trophy presentation
Elkington had to settle for a runners-up plate
"Walking off 16 the first time a lot of things went through my mind: 'Is this the way to lose another Major, is this the way you want to be remembered, by screwing up in an Open championship?'

"I'm pretty hard on myself as it is and that wasn't one of my finer moments.

"I still sometimes play like a man that's got a lot of talent and can play the game, and then I can turn around and play really poorly also.

"It would have been a very hard loss if I didn't win, so I'm proud of myself for getting this one."

Levet, who was beaten by Els in a sudden death play-off on the 18th, said he was "very proud" of his own achievement.

Steve Elkington, whose missed five-foot putt on the 18th could have won him the tournament in regulation play, was philosophical about it.

"That putt is one I should have made but I am not going to dwell on it too much," said the Australian, who was eliminated after the four-way four-hole play-off.

"It was a great week and I don't think there is anyone who could have hit the ball better than I did on Sunday.

"I never missed a green, I had 18 chances.

"But if that putt had gone in on the 72nd hole, I would have had that jug."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Open champion Ernie Els
"I thought my chance of victory had gone"
Els' caddie Ricky Roberts
"It's been a rollercoaster ride"
Runner-up Thomas Levet
"Ernie is a great champion"
BBC Sport Online's Open Golf Championship news section

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See also:

21 Jul 02 | The Open
21 Jul 02 | The Open
Links to more The Open stories are at the foot of the page.


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