Els capitalizes on Scott's choke job

Ernie Els of South Africa holds the Claret Jug after winning the British Open golf championship at...

Ernie Els of South Africa holds the Claret Jug after winning the British Open golf championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes, northern England July 22, 2012. (Eddie Keogh/REUTERS)

Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:01 PM ET

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, ENGLAND - In one of the all-time British Open collapses -- and that's saying something -- Adam Scott blew a four-shot lead with four holes to go to hand the Claret Jug to veteran Ernie Els.

Els might have become the first guy to win a major while talking on his phone.

Els played brilliantly on the back nine at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Sunday, going 4-under, including a birdie on the 18th, to post a score of 68, 7-under for the week.

As that birdie putt dropped on 18, Scott, who had started the day with a four-shot lead, was in the process of bogeying the 17th hole by going long and left of the green, his third bogey in a row and dropping him into a tie with Els.

Needing a par to tie Els, Scott opted to hit 3-wood off the tee and drove it near the face of a bunker guarding the left of the fairway, leaving him no chance to hit the green. He pitched out, hit his approach to eight feet and missed the putt that would have sent him into a playoff.

It is the fourth major title for Els, to go with two U.S. Open titles and the 2002 British Open.

"I'm a little numb at the moment," said Els. "First of all, I feel for Adam Scott ... we both wanted to win for different reasons. I feel for him, but it's the nature of the beast."

After he missed the putt, Scott stood beside the green waiting for fellow competitor Graeme McDowell to finish and could be seen mouthing the word, "Wow."

No kidding.

On a day when just about all the contenders were in full retreat, it looked like they were going to make it easy for Scott to get his first major title.

But that string of bogeys proved to be his undoing.

"I had it in my hands with four holes to go," said Scott. "But I managed to hit a poor shot on each of those holes."

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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