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When Ernie Els wrapped up his first 36 holes at Royal Lytham, few viewed the veteran as a legitimate title contender. The 42-year-old, more than two years removed from his last PGA tournament victory, was seven shots behind leader Brandt Snedeker.
Even as he buried a birdie to finish his Sunday at two-under and wrap up the tournament at seven-under, Els still appeared destined to fall short of his second British Open title. As is the case in so many golf comebacks, one man's success hinged on another man's failure.
After Els walked off the course, front-runner Adam Scott concluded a disastrous final stretch with bogeys on the 17th and 18th holes. In the blink of an eye, Els went from nervously pacing the practice green to being summoned to the winner's circle.
Scott dropped back from 10-under to six-under on the final four holes of the tournament, giving Els an outright victory in regulation. He became just the second player since 1995 to win a major championship despite trailing by at least seven shots through 36 holes.