Ernie Els has been named The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for July following his dramatic Open Championship victory at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Els, who receives an engraved alms dish and a jeroboam of Moët & Chandon champagne, posted a final round of two under par 68 in testing conditions to surge through the field and secure the Claret Jug for the second time in his career.
The 43 year old South African began the final round six shots off the lead but never gave up hope of winning the fourth Major of his career, a fact so perfectly illustrated by his brilliant 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the Championship that would prove to be the winning stroke.
With the men at the top of the leaderboard at the beginning of the final round all carding over par scores, Els surged through the field to be crowned The Open Champion – a feat that made him the overwhelming choice of the Race to Dubai Golfer of the Month Panel comprising members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as commentators from radio and television.
“It’s always nice to be named Golfer of the Month – it usually means you have done something pretty good and in my case this time it was for a very special achievement in my career,” said Els.
“The whole thing happened quite fast after I finished that final round. I have to say that I was praying to get in a play-off, but then it finished the way it did. Obviously I still feel for Adam Scott, but this one came my way for once. You lose a lot more than you win as a professional and I am sure Scotty’s time will come in a Major.
“But, as I say, it’s always nice to be voted Golfer of the Month – especially after winning a Major.”
Els was the judging panel’s unanimous choice but they also recognised the outstanding exploits of Marcel Siem in winning the Alstom Open de France; Jeev Milkha Singh’s victory in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and Bernd Wiesberger’s brilliant win in his national open at the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity.
There was also a special mention for Roger Chapman after the 53 year old continued his fairytale Senior Tour season by capturing his second Senior Major at the US Senior Open, following his breakthrough win in the US Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid in May.
Michael Harris, Editor of Golf Monthly magazine, said: “After manoeuvring himself into position over the first three days, Ernie’s final round at Royal Lytham was a master class in course management.
“While the other challengers faded on Sunday afternoon, Ernie expertly compiled his score and managed to find another gear over the fearsome closing stretch. His bold strategy from the tee and controlled approach play yielded four fantastic birdies on the inward nine, none better than the one at the 18th where he coolly rolled in a putt across the final green. It was a vintage performance from Ernie.”
Els follows Branden Grace (January), Paul Lawrie (February), Rory McIlroy (March), Louis Oosthuizen (April), Luke Donald (May) and Jamie Donaldson (June) in this year winning a Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month Award. All seven will join subsequent recipients in being considered for The 2012 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Award.