LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — Ernie Els kept feeling that something special could happen at the Open Championship, and it did.
But only after a collapse by Adam Scott that no one imagined.
Four shots ahead with four holes to play — after eight straight holes with nothing worse than par — Scott bogeyed them all and had to fight back tears on the 18th green Sunday as the magnitude of his meltdown began to sink in.
Els, who started the final round six shots behind, finished off a flawless back nine with a 15-foot birdie putt for a 2-under 68 that looked as if it would do little more than lock up another runner-up finish at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Instead, he wound up with his second Open Championship — the other one was 10 years ago at Muirfield — and fourth major championship at a stage in his career when it seemed as though his best golf was behind him.
The celebration was muted, unlike his other three majors.
“I’m a little numb at the moment,” said Els, who was on the practice green behind the clubhouse when he won. “First of all, I feel for Adam Scott. He’s a great friend of mine. Obviously, we both wanted to win very badly. But you know, that’s the nature of the beast. That’s why we’re out here. You win, you lose.
“It was my time for some reason.”