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Els wins BMW International Open

Ernie makes it look easy at Eichenried

Ernie Els fired a closing 69 on Sunday to complete a wire-to-wire victory over two-time champion Thomas Björn at the 25th edition of the BMW International Open.

 

The South African was in imperious form for much of the week at Golfclub München Eichenried, having opened with a round of 63 on Thursday en route to an impressive 18 under par total over the four days in Munich.

 

The victory was Els’ 28th on The European Tour and his first since the 141st Open Championship last July, and needless to say he was extremely satisfied with another winning display.

 

He said: “I’ve got to just start off with saying again, thank you to BMW for their continued support in golf in Europe, especially here in Munich. It’s wonderful to have sponsors like that around the world, and especially on The European Tour.

 

“Obviously my play this week has been great, as we talked about how much tougher the course is, but I just felt good this week. I just felt my game was there and lucky enough it was one shot good enough.

 

“As always, when you get to my age, to get a win, it’s a wonderful feeling, and hopefully it gives me the confidence that I need as there are two more Majors left [this year], and I've played quite well the last two but I need a bit of a spark in the next two.

 

“Hopefully this will help; it definitely will, especially the way the week went. From day one, I had the lead, and to keep the lead all the way through, that was quite a lot of pressure, so it’s been a good week.”

 

Denmark’s Björn had to settle for second place at the end of 72 holes having made much of the early running, as a trio of birdies from the third saw him take a narrow lead.

However, although he was able to bounce back from a bogey at the 11th, where he found a water hazard from the tee, the two-time champion at this event was unable to recover from a very costly double bogey on the hardest hole of the week, the 14th.

 

Having found the trees left of the fairway and been forced to take a penalty drop, Björn still found himself unable to advance his third to the green from the thick rough, before a chip and two putts saw him drop out of the lead. Despite birdies at the 16th and 18th coming home, he would end up finishing alone in second on 17 under par.

 

“I played well and got off to the start I needed today to get myself out in front,” said Björn. “The thing that’s been great this week is the driver, and that let me down on the back nine.

 

“The bogey on 11 didn’t come at a good time and obviously the one on 14, but I fought all the way to the end, and you know, Ernie hit two very classy shots on the last. When you go up against Ernie, you’ve got to take it 18 holes to the end and I didn’t quite do it today.”

 

In contrast to his more experienced counterparts, Alexander Levy is a novice, having made just 13 European Tour starts prior to this week.

 

But the young Frenchman belied his tender years with a superb start, notching three birdies on the front nine at the fifth, sixth, and eighth holes.

 

However, the 22 year old, who earned his card at last year’s European Tour Qualifying School Final, made a few too many mistakes coming in – four of them to be exact – before a late rally saw him register a third place finish, the best finish of his fledgling European Tour career.

 

Unfortunately for those watching, the German challenge from playing partners Martin Kaymer and Marcel Siem never quite materialised, but they still gave the largest following of the week plenty to cheer.

 

Kaymer, the 2008 champion, got off to a slow start with a bogey at the third, but six birdies, including one at the last, added up to a closing 69 and a tie for fourth on 14 under par alongside Alex Noren and Bernd Wiesberger, while Siem finished two shots worse off after a closing 71.

 

England’s Danny Willett also put up a spirited defence of the title he won 12 months ago in Cologne, and a closing eagle at the last was a nice way for the Sheffield native to sign off in a tie for 18th place.

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