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Monday, 22 July, 2002, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Most dramatic Open ever?
Ernie Els' thrilling sudden-death win at the 131st Open Championship caps off four days of intense action at Muirfield.
Send us your reactions to all the Open drama.
This debate is now closed.
The South African finally secured an Open victory after battling through a sudden death play-off; the tightest ever finish in the history of the competition.
Els eventually overcame France's Thomas Levet after the pair were forced to play the 18th hole for the third time after emerging all-square from 18 regulation holes and a four-hole play-off.
The final day had already seen English unknown Gary Evans put in a stunning round of 65, despite bogeying the first and last, and suffering the tension of losing a ball on the 17th.
And it was a tale of two Woods over the weekend, with a stunning final round 65 helping to offset a disastrous 81 on Saturday to finish the tournament on level par.
Was this the most thrilling Open Championship ever?
Well done to Ernie Els. As usual, Muirfield produced an Open winner of undoubted quality. I would have loved to see Gary Evans win, but somehow it never felt like it was going to be. Generally I found this Open highly enjoyable owing to how close it was.
However, I found myself not massively excited come the play-off as I had no real vested interest in any of the players. I would have liked to see Harrington in it, but as soon as I saw him pull out his driver on 18 I knew that he was about to blow his chance. Els may have been two ahead at that time, but I always thought six under was the likely winning score.
Of course the most memorable thing about the whole week was seeing that Tiger was indeed human. It wasn't just that he played badly, but that he completely lost his head, which I've never seen before. If he had kept it together better and restricted his bad scoring, victory might still have been his.
I hope this gives the rest of the golfing world encouragement and that majors start becoming competitive again. However, the more likely result is that he will bear down harder on himself and not give anyone a sniff of a chance next time.
On the issue of the third day's play, I was astonished by the terrible scoring. Surely there have been conditions that bad at the Open before? While I accept that modern pros are almost universally better than those of yesteryear, are they also perhaps a little softer when the going gets tough.
Sport at its best. Having sat around the 18th green on Sunday at Muirfield for five hours, it has to be the biggest highlight in sporting moments of my life. Hats off to every player in the tournament for providing us with such marvellous entertainment. Well done Ernie, a well deserving champion.
The best ever Open finish, bar none. To be there with the atmosphere and the weather was fantastic, it's just a pity there had to be a loser.
Congrats Ernie. Pity about the references to Tiger. His score on Thurs/Fri determined is starting time on the Saturday, and he wasn't up to the challenge. That's life and golf!
Hats off to Steve Elkington, I did not know he was even in the field. Tiger should have just played an ordinary game on Saturday, he would have been in the shake up at the end it he had. Congratulations to the R&A,,set up the course and let the weather do the rest!
I can't believe people going on about Tiger Woods' dignity. I watched him on the first tee on Thursday, and after landing in the rough, he turned the air blue with a childish outburst at a spectator.
Every time a shot went wrong he would start banging his club into the ground. Oh I forgot, he's allowed to do this because he is a winner, and it's a sign of his competitive attitude. What nonsense.
Golf is about getting the ball in the hole, not just off the tee. I've no doubt he will be back with even more vim and vigour but, with all due respect to his abilities and achievements, can we please all get over Tiger and let him continue to learn the game before we canonise him?
The Claret Jug was fought for by the world's top 156 men golfers (not forgetting the thousands who unsuccessfully battled through qualification rounds) and the best player over the last four days won.
That the closing of The Open was so entertaining is attributable to the eclectic mix of characters and the contribution each of them made. And at the end of the day, Ernie did it better than the rest. And he did it with charm and grace.
It was a great open. Els acknowledged this himself in his acceptance speech. The facts are that 27 players from 10 countries (including a qualifier) played 7579 shots between them and all finished no more than five shots from the winner.
On all four days these 27 players had a maximum of nine shots between the lowest and highest rounds of each day. And they all played on Saturday, and no one offered an excuse for the weather. The fact is that when the going got tough, the world's number one could not handle the elements.
Overall it was the game of golf and the watching public who benefited, by not having to endure four hours of watching the world's number one.
The best Open ever. The lesson learned by this Open is: courses set up like Muirfield, with weather, levels the playing field for all players. This allows all players an opportunity to win and not just the highly ranked players. Length should not be the determining factor, but well managed play should be. Well done Scotland!
Tiger Woods is still the best golfer by a mile and will continue to win more than his fair share of Major's, and will hopefully continue to maintain his present incredible standard everybody must be aiming for.
But every now and then it's nice to see someone else win a Major for a change and congratulations to Ernie Els for producing a great performance in lifting the Claret Jug, and to all the other stars for being involved in the great entertainment right up to the death.
And thanks to the unpredictable weather at the most unwelcome time on Saturday that was helped put Woods right out of contention is what makes The Open the great tournament it is, and helped to set up the most stunning of dramatic finishes.
It was an excellent Open because all four days provided a differing form of entertainment. I think it is impossible to say it was the best ever but it was hugely enjoyable. I would have like to have seen all four play-off contenders in the same group though.
This was close to being the best ever finish. I was a mere youngster at Carnoustie in 1976 when Nicklaus v Watson ended almost as dramatically... but this had the added advantage of a four way play-off, perfect playing conditions, a distinct feeling that any one of a dozen people were capable of winning (rather than losing by default), so overall pretty much the best Open in a generation.
Superb... sport at its very best. So good I even let my wife cut the grass! One final thought ... Monty shot the best round of the week, the press should remember him for that.
Nice to see that a Belgian played such an important role in "masterminding" Ernie's victory, as we Belgians have very little hope of ever even participating in a major golf tournament (not to speak of The Open).
One of the best ever Opens but already people are taking the shine off Ernie's achievement by asking what would have happened if Tiger hadn't played in such conditions on day three and had been up there at the end.
The fact is that Tiger couldn't handle the conditions when everyone else who climbed the leader board on day three could. This is what the British Open is all about, handle the course and the conditions and you will come out on top. Tiger wasn't up to it, a host of others were.
I didn't think this was the most thrilling open I have ever watched - Turnbury 77, Watson v Nicklaus was - a head to head on the closing nine holes which had everything, but this Open was a very close second.
It proved that the British Open is the finest major because there are so many things you need to beat: the rest of the field, the golf course, the inner demons in your head and the weather.
If Tiger Woods does win the grand slam in one calendar year he will have played every type of golf to perfection including links golf - manufacturing shots, hitting the ball low under the wind, when the weather turns - he's got something to think about now!
I am a recent convert to golf having originally thought it a tedious game. How wrong could I be...I sat glued to the box enthralled from start to finish. The bunker shot Els played at the 13th on the final round was the work of a magician. Well done Ernie.
I am reading comments that Tiger Woods would've done this and that, had he not got the worst of the weather. What about Ernie Els? Was he not the leader who had to start his round in the torrid weather and only got a rest from it around the 14th? Tiger couldn't handle it, Ernie did, and good luck to him.
Congratulations to Ernie Els, who is a worthy champion and a great ambassador for the game of golf. We may not have witnessed a four day celebration of golf at its absolute best (Saturday's weather put paid to that), but there were many great performances which bode well for the future of golf at this level.
For sheer class you have to take your hat of not only to Ernie, but to Tiger Woods as well. After the mauling he took on Saturday, to come back and shoot 65 instead of settling for a par round showed real class and determination.
Definitely one of the best and most exciting Opens I've seen. Els thoroughly deserved to win as he played most of his third round in appalling conditions - unlike others in the play-off. But those who say it would have been different if Woods was up there frankly annoy me.
Woods is not invincible, as evidenced by his 81 on the third day, and wasn't in a position to threaten as a result. Maybe the pressure Els (and others) put on Woods during the third day are what made him crack?
If a Brit was not to win then Ernie Els would have been my favourite, so I was pleased with the outcome. Living here in the USA we have to put up with an overdose of Tiger, so it was really pleasing to watch TV coverage of other players who we would not normally see. All in all it was a great championship where the best overall player won.
It is good to see the 'gentle giant' Ernie Els nab another major at last. I admire his humility and bravery in admitting his weaknesses. Let's hope that he controls his demons and threatens Tiger's domination for years to come.
Gary Evans on the 17th was the best TV sporting moment I have witnessed this year. It had everything - nerves, passion, player camaraderie and a heartfelt message to his proud mum! Simply brilliant viewing!
Damn fine show! And to Natalie (below) give the man some credit. Ernie played in the same atrocious conditions as Woods but did much better. This time Woods didn't have the right to be the one applying the pressure. Well done Ernie!
A great championship, and a great champion. One thing struck me above all else: Tiger's dignified and good-humoured reaction on Saturday was an example to all. Colin Montgomerie should take note.
This Open was by far the best I have ever watched. The weather gave everything it could and the course was incredible. How these guys keep their nerve is marvellous.
While it was very exciting to watch, I fear all this hype about being the best ever Open is nothing but a knee jerk reaction to Tiger suffering on day three. All the talk beforehand was about who could challenge Tiger, and no one thought the weather would demolish his hopes.
we're in the 'Woods' era now, so I fear that given the right conditions and an in form Tiger the next few majors are all going to business as usual for him, with the rest aiming for the number two spot. Only when we get two or three players of equal standard to Tiger are we in for the best Open ever.
This was the most dramatic tournament I have ever seen, but the standard of golf was not the best I have ever seen. It was refreshing to see professionals spraying the ball both sides of the fairways and landing in some horrible rough.
I still think that Tiger would have won it had he not had to put up with the worst of the conditions on Saturday. There is no way he would have choked like the others did!
Ernie Els had a fantastic four days and it is unlikely that he will ever win in such dramatic fashion. It would have been interesting to see if his nerve would have held if Tiger Woods was up there applying the pressure.
To watch a major in which Tiger was tamed made the viewing much better. It was good to see others shine but it would have been wonderful to see Gary Evans go all the way!
The climax to the tournament was excellent and no one argue that this was a great advert for Golf! Let's hope to see more majors go this way!
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