British Open Winner 2012: Ernie Els' Win Another Impressive Outing in Great Year

Sam R. Quinn@SamQuinn_Senior Analyst IIIJuly 23, 2012

LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND - JULY 22:  Ernie Els of South Africa poses with the Claret Jug after winning the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club on July 22, 2012 in Lytham St Annes, England.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Ernie Els became a professional golfer in 1989. There have been plenty of victories along the way—19 on the PGA Tour, to be exact—but his triumph at the 2012 British Open was one of "The Big Easy's" sweetest.

The 42-year-old South African hadn't won a major championship in a decade, with the last coming in the 2002 British Open at Muirfield Golf Links in a playoff.

He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011, a crowning achievement for any golfer. However, such an honor is usually awarded when a player is on the decline, but Els didn't care on Sunday at the Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club.

Actually, he hasn't cared all season. He's turned back the clock this year to put on a great showing for his fans all over the world.

Els' win at the British Open was just another notch on his belt in a season that has been surprisingly kind to the former No. 1 player.

Not much had been made of Els this season. He had posted four top-20 finishes just as the calendar month turned to April.

He then missed the cut at the RBC Heritage, but bounced back to finish second at the Zurich Class of New Orleans, where he lost in a playoff to Jason Dufner.

The season appeared to be heading downhill for Els when he missed the cut at the Players Championship in May, then finished outside of the top 40 at both the HP Byron Nelson Classic and the Memorial tournament.

Once again, Els bounced back, finishing in the top 10 at the U.S. Open before taking a month-long hiatus from the PGA Tour prior to winning the British Open.

At 42 years old, Els wasn't on the casual golf fan's radar. He wasn't expected to contend for a major championship like he once did. Surely there was a contingent who believed that Els would fall back into obscurity at the back end of his career.

That hasn't been the case in 2012. Els has put together a fine year on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes.

His resume didn't need many makeovers, but Els made sure on Sunday that he added a second British Open championship to his long list of accomplishments.