Els: Leopard Creek blunder an all-time low

World number five Ernie Els is still in a daze after gifting victory to Briton John Bickerton at the Dunhill Championship on Sunday.

The three-time Major winner arrived at the par-five 18th at Leopard Creek on Sunday with a two-shot lead over Bickerton, who had already completed his round.

But Els twice found the water surrounding the final green to slump to a triple-bogey eight and finish one behind Bickerton.

”Yesterday [Sunday] is about the most disappointed I’ve ever felt walking off a golf course,” Els told his official website on Monday. ”I was gutted.

”But let’s keep things in proportion, this is sport. It’s not like anyone died out there. I just have to take it on the chin and move on.”

The 38-year-old South African said it was easy to be wise after the event.

”I bombed a great drive down the middle of the fairway,” said Els. ”I’m sure some people today [Monday] might say I should have laid up short of the water [with my second] but I had only about 190 yards to the front edge and for me that’s a comfortable six-iron.

”I really didn’t feel like it was a lay-up situation. Like I said, people will disagree, but it’s easy to be smart and make judgements after the event. I went with what I felt was the right shot at the time.”

Els then compounded his error by wedging his fourth stroke back into the water.

”It was horrible but it’s history,” he said. ”It shouldn’t happen but it does.

”If you look back over the years some of the best players in the world have thrown away tournaments on the last few holes.

”What more can you say?”

Els is glad he will have the opportunity to bounce straight back when he begins the defence of his South African Open title on the Western Cape on Thursday.

”In many ways it’s a good thing I’m playing again this week,” said the player known as the Big Easy. ”I need to jump right back on the horse.

”I fully intend to bounce back strongly and win this week’s South African Open for what would be the fifth time in my career. That would be the best early Christmas present I could give to myself.” — Reuters

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