Els fends off rejuvenated Bjorn to shoot down Tiger

Having missed out at all four of the majors this season, Ernie Els rewarded himself with the next best thing by winning a World Championship.

Having missed out at all four of the majors this season, Ernie Els rewarded himself with the next best thing by winning a World Championship. A man known for his celebrations, this was the first time Els has enjoyed one in Ireland, a country where he certainly appreciates the local brews.

It was also his first World Golf Championship title as an individual, and in the process he relegated Tiger Woods to third place in the world rankings.

"It's nice, but I'm still number two," Els joked. "I've been chasing Tiger for five years and now I'm chasing Vijay [Singh]. The game is on, well and truly." In horrid weather, wet and windy but not quite the tournament-delaying storm that had been predicted, Els beat Thomas Bjorn by a stroke. Avoiding mistakes appeared impossible in the conditions, but had the South African holed his par putt at the last, he would have been the only player not to have dropped a shot.

"I think I showed that I didn't want to lose today," Els said. "It was a tough day with the weather and Thomas [Bjorn] keeping me on my toes all the way to the end. There was a lot of pressure but I wanted to draw a line under the disappointments of the summer."

Els arrived at Mount Juliet after two-weeks off, in which he decided to put behind him the near-misses in this year's majors. "I needed to get that out of my system and start going forward again in my career. You can't keep looking back."

By comparison Bjorn has had an even tougher summer, walking off the course on his last visit to Ireland in July and then taking a five-week break after The Open. Being part of the back-room at the Ryder Cup gave the Dane his first positive memories on a golf course for months, but the turnaround in his game is still astonishing.

"This is a massive improvement," said Bjorn, who recorded his best result since January. "It's been a long trip but this is a sign that I can play with the big boys again and that's where I want to be." There has been hard work with his coach, Pete Cowen, and he was back with his old caddie, Ken Comboy. He almost holed his approach at the first for an eagle but Els also birdied and the pair matched each other again with twos at the third.

Bjorn added another birdie at the fifth but never drew level. It was a fine week for European players with David Howell, Sergio Garcia and two locals, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke, all on the leaderboard.

Woods, who started the week with back trouble, finished ninth, and now no longer holds a strokeplay title for the first time since his maiden professional win. He left for what was rumoured to be a week in Barbados where he would wed his fiancée, Elin Nordegren. "I'm ready to go diving. I'm ready to hop in that water and shoot some fish," was all he would confirm.

AMERICAN EXPRESS CHAMPIONSHIP (Thomastown, Co Kilkenny) Leading final scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 270 E Els (SA) 69 64 68 69. 271 T Bjorn (Den) 68 69 66 68. 275 D Howell 69 69 66 71. 276 D Clarke 71 72 65 68; S Garcia (Sp) 67 72 67 70. 277 R Goosen (SA) 68 69 68 72; T Hamilton (US) 66 69 69 73; P Harrington 69 69 66 73. 278 T Woods (US) 68 70 70 70. 279 Z Johnson (US) 68 71 69 71. 280 M Hensby (Aus) 73 73 69 65; L Donald 67 71 71 71. 281 D Toms (US) 70 74 68 69; B Faxon (US) 70 68 72 71; L Westwood 68 69 71 73. 283 S Maruyama (Japan) 70 70 73 70; A Cabrera (Arg) 69 69 74 71; S Appleby (Aus) 67 74 70 72; J Kelly (US) 69 73 69 72; M A Jimenez (Spa) 67 68 75 73. Selected: 286 T Levet (Fr) 73 71 73 69. 287 F Couples (US) 73 67 70 77.

News
FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts during a news conference in Zurich June 1, 2011
news
News
people
Life and Style
food + drink
News
peopleKatie Hopkins criticises River Island's 'seize the day' bags for trying to normalise epilepsy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family
film'I survived it, but I’ll never be the same,' says Arash Amel
Life and Style
Retailers should make good any consumer goods problems that occur within two years
tech(and what to do if you receive it)
Life and Style
healthIf one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
Life and Style
tech
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith