- BMW International Open, Round Four
Easy does it as Els wraps up wire-to-wire victory
Ernie Els used his composure, quality and vast experience to great effect on Sunday, as he ultimately cruised to victory at the BMW International in Munich.
The four-time major champion, who nearly broke the course record at Eichenried on Thursday as he took hold of the tournament at the earliest opportunity, stayed strong coming down the back nine in the fourth round as those around him suddenly started to tighten up - picking up a two-putt birdie at the last to secure a one-shot victory at 18-under par.
That was thanks to a closing 69 - a score matched by his playing partner Thomas Bjorn, who ultimately finished second without ever really getting the chance to pressure the South African for the title down the stretch.
"It's great to get my name on this wonderful trophy," Els said. "It's been a while [since I've gone wire-to-wire]. It's been wonderful, I've had a great week in Germany.
"I've gone a long time trying to win this golf tournament. I really had it going, and then I did make it tough for myself!"
Els started the day level with Alex Noren and Alexander Levy, but the latter pair - out in the final group together - could not sustain their challenge. Noren was derailed by a clumsy start that dropped him out of the running early on, while Levy paid the price for a string of bogeys on the back nine - perhaps the result of his relative inexperience in such positions - having initially gone toe-to-toe with his more experienced rival.
Els, Levy and Bjorn all picked up three shots on the front nine, preserving the status quo heading into the final nine holes of the tournament. Els and Bjorn both stumbled as they bogeyed the par-five 11th but it was Levy who really struggled; with dropped shots at the tenth, 12th, 15th and 17th ultimately proving too much of a hardship to overcome.
That left Els and Bjorn to tussle, but the Dane made his prospects all the harder with a double-bogey at the 14th. From there it was a case of the South African avoiding mistakes and, after holing a nervy putt for par at the 17th and then finding the green in two at the par-five last, he left no opportunity for his rivals to regain the ground they had lost.
"Thomas was playing great until 14, and I was watching the kid [Levy]," Els noted. "He looked like he was staying strong, he has a great game, but he stumbled a bit coming in.
"I just tried to stay with the basics and it worked."
With Bjorn second, Levy birdied the last to clinch third on his own, with Noren ultimately sharing fourth with Martin Kaymer and Bernd Wiesberger.
Elsewhere, Sergio Garcia continued his encouraging weekend display with a closing 69 to finish 14-under, sneaking into a top-ten finish having barely managed to make the cut.
The top ten was rounded out by Henrik Stenson (67), 20-year-old South African professional debutant Brandon Stone (71) and two Brits - John Parry (69) and Paul Waring (69) - with Ross Fisher (70) and defending champion Danny Willett (72) just a shot further away.