24 June 2013
Ernie Els captured the BMW International Open at Golfclub Munchen Eichenried in Munich, Germany on Sunday, having led the tournament from start to finish. It was a timely win for the South African great, coming just a month ahead of his British Open title defence at Muirfield.
Els’ victory was built upon a superb first round of nine-under-par 63. “That first round was the dream start for me,” he wrote on his website, “especially having come straight from a tough week in the US Open at Merion. Obviously I played some good stuff there, so my goal was to carry that form into the BMW.
“Seven birdies and an eagle for a 63 was certainly a neat way of doing that. We knew it was going to be low scoring week, so if you come out of the blocks fast like that, it does somewhat take the pressure off for the rest of the tournament. It means you’re not having to play a game of catch-up all week.”
Even an opening 63, however, does not guarantee a procession to the title and it was far from that for Els, who was passed by both Thomas Bjorn and Alexander Levy in the final round, but he kept his composure to sign for a third 69 on the trot and an 18-under-par total.
Heading into the 18th, Els needed a birdie to win. He wrote afterwards: “It was tight right down to the wire, though, so we knew we’d probably have to make birdie on 18 to secure the win. To play that hole so well and make a secure two-putt birdie, that was obviously very satisfying.
“Any time you have a tap-in birdie putt to win a golf tournament, you’re a happy man!”
The victory was the 68th of Els’ career and his 28th on the European Tour. Surprisingly, it was the first by a South African in the BMW International.
It tied him with compatriot Louis Oosthuizen, Italy’s Matteo Manassero and England’s Ian Poulter as the only golfers to have won European Tour titles in each of the past four years.
The win, worth €333 330 (approximately R4.46-million), also secured a place for Els in the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the 2013 WGC-HSBC Champions and the 2014 Volvo Golf Champions.
Fellow South African Darren Fichardt enjoyed a strong showing, finishing in a tie for seventh with Sergio Garcia and Wen-yi Huang on 14-under-par 274.
There was further excitement for South African golf fans when, after being given a sponsor’s exemption, Brandon Stone, who turned professional at the beginning of the month, tied for 10th in his first tournament in the paying ranks. He finished on 275 after rounds of 66, 71, 67 and 71.
“What an awesome week it was! T10 finish on debut is a dream come true!” he wrote on Twitter afterwards.
Tjaart van der Walt and Justin Walters tied for 29th on 279, Jaco van Zyl shared 35th on 280, while Dawie van der Walt tied for 41st on 281.
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