Els dedicates Open win to son

23/07/2012 10:53:28
Ernie Els - Open Champion  (Getty Images)
Ernie Els - Open Champion (Getty Images)

Open Champion Ernie Els said his nine year old autistic son Ben was in his thoughts as he carved out his fourth Major victory at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

The 42 year old South African holed a 12-foot putt for birdie at the last for a three under par 67, which left him one shot clear of Australian Adam Scott.

"I made a lot of putts today with Ben in mind because I know Ben's watching,” said Els, who flew back to his family in London in a helicopter on Sunday evening.

"He loves when I hit golf balls - he's always there. He comes with me. He loves the flight of the ball and the sound.

"I know he was watching today. He gets really excited and I wanted to keep him excited today, so I made a lot of putts for him."

Asked what he would say when he arrived at his Wentworth home Els, who will be playing in the Canadian Open later this week, replied: "I don't think I'll need to say anything.

"He's got his sayings and he'll be happy. And obviously (daughter) Samantha will be there right next to him and (wife) Liezl. It's going to be a great time to see them.

"Ben's coming through now nicely. I mean, you guys should see him.

"He's a wonderful boy now and he's a bright boy, so we're going to have a lot of fun."

Since revealing Ben's condition four years ago the Els family have worked extremely hard to raise funds for research, and a multi-million pound centre in Florida will open soon.

Els also said he thought of South African President Nelson Mandela as he was plotting his way to the win – his second Open Championship victory, having triumphed in 2002 at Muirfield.

"A lot of the Olympic theme this year has got President Mandela in it, so he's been very much in my thoughts.

"Believe it or not, this morning I was lying watching cricket and I was just kind of daydreaming and that thought came through me in a split second.

"If I win, I told myself, I'd better thank President Mandela because I grew up in the era of the apartheid, and then changing into the democratic era President Mandela was right there.

"Right after the change I was the first one to win a Major, so there's a lot of significance there in my life.

"In a way we intertwined together in a crazy way and I just felt he's been so important for us being where we are today as a nation and as sports people."