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SLIPS, YIPS AND FLIPS
MICHAEL BAMBERGER
July 30, 2012
In a battle of (soon to be outlawed?) anchored putters, a rejuvenated Ernie Els won an intriguing British Open after a historic collapse by Adam Scott
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July 30, 2012

Slips, Yips And Flips

In a battle of (soon to be outlawed?) anchored putters, a rejuvenated Ernie Els won an intriguing British Open after a historic collapse by Adam Scott

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In the end, you see, it matters. You can look like a movie star, date celebrities, fly on private planes, make friends wherever you go with your openness and charm and good manners. (Here's looking at you, Adam Scott.)

But if you're a golfer, especially a golfer from somewhere other than the U.S., the British Open matters more than words can say.

And unfortunately for Scott, the 32-year-old Australian golfer with Tiger's old swing and old caddie, he let his clubs do the talking in the final round of the Open.

Bogey on 15 (bad approach shot). Bogey on 16 (bad putt). Bogey on 17 (bad approach shot). Bogey on 18 (bad line). Four straight 5s.

And with that, that bogey on the home hole, Ernie Els won golf's oldest championship from Royal Lytham's practice putting green, hard by the old redbrick clubhouse in which Bobby Jones knotted bow ties and into which Seve Ballesteros breathed life.

Els couldn't see the 18th green from his pseudo work station. But he could hear. The groans told him that Scott's eight-foot par putt did not drop. Els had won.

As the Royal & Ancient's silversmith again engraved an Afrikaner surname on the claret jug—OOSTHUIZEN was etched on it only two years ago—Adam Scott's name was making the rounds on the Internet, keeping company with Jean Van de Velde (1999 British Open), Ed Sneed ('79 Masters) and Arnold Palmer ('66 U.S. Open). It has come to this: #majormeltdown.

Els, a South African who lives in South Florida, near Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, now has four major championships: two U.S. Opens and two British Opens. Before Lytham, his last major win came 10 years ago at Muirfield. This year he did not qualify for the Masters, and he slipped into the U.S. Open almost on the trading deadline. Now he's guaranteed a spot in the Masters, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship through 2017.

Els is 42, the same age Darren Clarke was when he won last year's British Open. Clarke took the jug around the world and danced with it, and has been on an epic 0-fer for a year now. (He hasn't had a top 10 since his victory. Last week he missed the cut by four shots.) Els needs to be careful: He could pull a DC. They both like pub life, they are both big, amiable men with a hidden, or nearly hidden, edgy streak. But the guess here is that Els will use his extend-a-career card well.

He worked hard to get it. His putting was so poor in March, he said, "people were laughing at me." He sought professional advice, technical and mental, and he had an hourlong conversation with Nicklaus that inspired him more than Big Jack knows. The main thing Nicklaus remembers telling Ernie, he said on Sunday night, "is that he has a lot of golf left in him."

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