Els birdie defeats Frazar in play-off

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The Independent Online

Ernie Els successfully defended his title at the Sony Open here with a 22-foot birdie at the third play-off hole to beat Harrison Frazar.

Frazar almost won in regulation with a two-putt birdie at the par-five 18th, but Els sank a 10-footer to force extra holes. Els shot a closing 65 and Frazar 66 to tie at 18-under-par 262, three shots ahead of Davis Love III.

Both players managed par on the first two extra holes before Els won at the par-three 11th to improve his PGA Tour play-off record to 4-2.

The South African became the first player to win the event two years in a row since Corey Pavin in 1986 and 1987, picking up £480,000 for his 13th victory on the PGA Tour.

Els had made a slow start to the new year, with a mediocre performance at last week's Mercedes Championship, but he showed his enormous talent here by quickly playing his way into form. He made only one bogey in the final round, and three for the week.

The event had lost some of its buzz when the 14-year-old Michelle Wie went home after a 68 on Friday to miss the cut by one shot. However, Els and Frazar brought it back to life with a terrific duel.

It was the third time that Frazar had the lead going into the final round. He finished fourth in the 1998 Colonial, and tied for third last year in the Phoenix Open when Vijay Singh shot 63 in the final round.

The lesson from Phoenix, he said, was not to "sit back and watch what somebody else is doing".

HAWAIIAN OPEN (Honolulu) Leading final scores (US unless stated): 262 E Els (SA) 67 64 66 65; H Frazar 67 63 66 66. (Els won with a birdie on the third playoff hole). 265 D Love III 70 65 63 67. 266 F Lickliter II 71 62 65 68. 267 J Kelly 68 65 69 65; B Baird 68 66 66 67. 268 J Riegger 68 66 67 67. 269 S Ames (Trin) 66 70 65 68; C Barlow 66 69 66 68. 270 V Singh (Fiji) 69 68 67 66; O Uresti 72 66 67 65; J Huston 67 67 69 67; R Goosen (SA) 67 69 65 69; P Azinger 67 66 66 71. 271 A Baddeley (Aus) 66 72 67 66; B Pappas (SA) 67 69 69 66; J Parnevik (Swe) 65 68 70 68; C Bowden 70 64 69 68; B Van Pelt 71 65 67 68. 272 S Micheel 72 64 68 68; C Riley 69 69 67 67; J Durant 70 66 69 67; L Donald (GB) 66 66 71 69; C Franco (Par) 63 72 68 69; M Allen 68 69 65 70; C Pavin 68 67 66 71.

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