Els back in form in PGA Tour

2011-10-10 10:27
Ernie Els (AP)

Johannesburg - Ernie Els returned to form with a tie for fourth at the Open at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, California, on Sunday.

Following rounds of 69, 66, 67 and 68, the South African finished on a total of 270, three shots off the pace.

Americans Bryce Molder and Briny Baird went into a playoff, with Molder winning after six extra holes.

It was Els' first top 10 finish on the PGA Tour this season - apart from the Travistock Cup, which is a team event - but he would have been aiming for the win going into the final round.

Armed with his now familiar belly putter, Els would have romped to victory had he produced a better performance on the greens.

The Big Easy has struggled with his putting all season and did not manage under 30 putts in any of his first three rounds in California.

Number one, however, in greens reached in regulation for the event, Els was in contention from the opening round.

He began the final day two shots behind the overnight leader, Baird, and as the biggest name on the front page of the leaderboard, he was expected to make a run.

The South African picked up only two shots on his opening nine, though, and heading home he made his first birdie of the loop on the 13th before dropping a shot on the next hole. His final birdie came on the 17th.

Meanwhile, former Masters champion Trevor Immelman rose to a share of 21st with a final round 66.

Louis Oosthuizen, who was paired with crowd favourite Tiger Woods for the first two rounds, finished in a tie for 59th.

On the European tour, Thomas Aiken continued his good form with a fifth-place finish in the Bankia Madrid Masters in Spain.

The South African's four-round total of 10-under-par 278 was five behind Englishman Lee Slattery who won the title.

Fellow Sunshine Tour winner Jaco van Zyl, who recently won his third straight Telkom PGA Championship in Centurion, finished on five under par, 10 shots behind Slattery.

On the Ladies' European Tour, Lee-Anne Pace was the only the South African to make the cut in the Sicilian Ladies Italian Open.

Pace finished in a tie for 24th, on five over par for the three-round event, behind American Christina Kim who took the title by four shots on a total of seven under.

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