After Levet putted out for 5, Els had those five feet to win at Muirfield, where in 1992 he had tied for fifth in his first Open as a professional. In the decade since, he has gotten married, fathered a daughter and earned a fortune, but in the last few years played Avis to Tiger's Hertz. Which may be why, when Els drained the putt on Sunday, he joyously threw his cap into the sky, a Mary Tyler Moore of the moors.
Levet hugged him and then hoisted the 6'3" Els as if he were the runner-up trophy, which is in fact a small silver salad plate. Els knows, having accepted it two years ago after finishing eight strokes behind Woods, who was somewhere up in the ether right now, along with Els's golf cap. Earlier, on the 17th tee in regulation, Els, pondering possible defeat, thought he might become a different person. "And now," he said, "in a better way, I am."