Just as he did in the 1997 US Open at Congressional, Ernie Els got the better of Colin Montgomerie and Tom Lehman to win the Standard Life Loch Lomond.
After a dramatic final round the South African finished a shot ahead of Lehman and two clear of defending champion Montgomerie to claim the 292,721 euro (£183,330) first prize and his sixth European Tour title.
Three years ago the three players were the central characters during the final round of the US Open. One that occasion Lehman’s chances disappeared when he found water on the 17th while Montgomerie’s hopes of a first major ended with a missed six foot putt for a par on the same hole. Els made a sublime par four to secure his second US Open title.
Once again the trio were locked together, this time on the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond. Standing on the 17th tee Montgomerie and Els were level. The Scot hit his shot to 35 feet and Els followed him to six and although Montgomerie made his par Els moved one ahead with a birdie.
Both missed the green at the 430-yard last, Els into sand right and Montgomerie into rough left after his drive finished on the bank of a fairway bunker. But while Montgomerie chipped to six feet, Els splashed out almost dead to finish with closing 68 for an 11-under-par total of 273
Behind him Lehman, the 1997 champion, birdied the 17th from eight feet to draw level, only to hook his drive into the loch down the last and finish with a bogey.
"It does not get much better than this," said Els. "At times I played brilliant and at times played some ordinary stuff but the key was hanging in there and making those par saves I had to. The tee shot on 17 was probably the biggest shot I hit all week, playing a five iron to eight feet.
“But to win these you’ve got to make those par saves and my scorecard didn’t show a bogey on the back nine. That was also a key.”
Despite again missing out to Els, Montgomerie was upbeat about the way he defended the title. “I lost the tournament on the third. I’ve been in the hazard the last three days and lost it there. But there are no regrets. Ernie played well. The last five holes were unbelievable. It could have gone either way but didn’t.
“But it was a good defence in a string field and I feel good about things now. I’m looking forward to next week.”
Lehman had been battling with his swing all week and just when he needed a good drive, it failed him. “It was disappointing to hit that shot at that time,” said the 1997 champion. “I’ve been fighting the swing all week and it bit back at the wrong time. But I’m putting and chipping well and feel I’m in good shape going into the Open.”
Mathias Gronberg, playing in the first group, had good reason to remember the day as well as he scored a hole-in-one at the 205-yard 17th he holed-in-one and won $100,00 for himself and the same amount for The Standard Life Anniverary Appeal. It was a second successive hole-in-one as Jarmo Sandelin aced the same hole with the final shot of the third round there - but he only received a bottle of champagne.
Per-Ulrik Johansson secured an Open exemption by finishing fifth among those players not already exempt in the cumulative money list running from the Volvo PGA Championship up to and including the Standard Life Loch Lomond. Also exempt for St Andrews are Fredrik Jacobson, Steen Tinning, Patrik Sjoland and Nick O’Hern.Final results and prize moneyFinal day video highlights