Scott Guns Down Els to Retain Barclays Singapore Open

Sun 10 Sep 2006

Scott Guns Down Els to Retain Barclays Singapore Open

Singapore, September 10: Australian Adam Scott successfully retained the US$3 million Barclays Singapore Open title after beating South African Ernie Els by two shots in a three-hole play-off on Sunday.

Scott delivered the knock-out blow with a birdie at the par five 18th hole at Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong course to edge Els after both players parred the first two holes at the 16th and 17th.

It was the 11th professional victory, but the first for 2006, for the supremely talented 26-year-old. He coolly dropped in a five foot putt as Els three-putted for bogey on the last after finding thick rough with his drive.

The fourth round of the Major of Asia was cancelled late in the afternoon following two weather suspensions due to adverse weather, sending Els and Scott into a three-hole play-off as they were joint third round leaders on eight-under-under-par 205.

"It's the first time I have defended a title and it's a great feeling and something that I will cherish, winning a national Open. Like I said last year, it's a great feeling and I'm really thrilled. It's been a long time coming this win, since last year and hopefully I can keep going from here," said Scott, who won US$475,500

The record crowds of 7,000 fans were treated to a thrilling duel between the top two stars who matched each other blow for blow in the final round and the play-off. Els missed a birdie chance from 10 feet on the first extra hole on 16 while Scott saved par from five feet.

After both shot pars on the 17th, Scott, the world number six, gained the advantage on the par five 18th after an exquisite chip left him five feet from the pin while Els struggled after a wayward drive put him in the shin-high rough. After finding the front of the green with his third, the South African agonizingly three putted from 25-feet.

"Playing three holes is a lot more comfortable than playing sudden-death. It's not do or die on every shot and you have a chance to make up for a mistake. The only mistake I made was the tee shot on the first play-off hole and I had a decent lie. I was a little anxious out there as Ernie is one of those who can pull off the spectacular. Today probably wasn't his day.

"There wasn't much separating Ernie and myself and whether that was over 72 or 54, or 65 holes which we played, it came down to a play-off and fortunately I won. I definitely feel I'm the winner of the tournament," said Scott, who won the Nissan Open on the US PGA Tour last year which was reduced to a 36-hole affair.

Els, the world's number seven, was disappointed to suffer his second loss in Singapore by one stroke. "In the play off, I had my chances. I hit a good shot in to the 16th (to 10 feet) but did not hit the putt well. On 17 for some reason my tee shot came back - I was close to the hole but could not putt it.

"On the 18th I drove it right - just one of those things. On the third shot I was a club short, it was coming nicely on line but unfortunately it was not enough club. It is disappointing," said Els, who lost the 2003 Singapore Masters to China's Zhang Lian-wei by one stroke.

The final round was first suspended for an hour and 40 minutes at 11.58am due to lightning. However, another torrential thunderstorm hit Sentosa at 4.27pm, forcing the cancellation of the final round.

Els and Scott had earlier traded blow-for-blow with the Aussie shooting two early birdies to pull three ahead, before being caught by Els who fired two birdies, an eagle and two bogeys in the eight holes that they managed to play in the fourth round before it was cancelled.

Els said: "I got something going there before the break. A birdie and an eagle but  unfortunately, I bogeyed the eighth. I had some momentum going on my side and then the weather came in. Who knows what is going to happen tomorrow - if you have another day like today what are you going to do then? It was a tough situation."

Anxious for a first win in the Lion City, the "Big Easy" said he would return for another crack at the Barclays Singapore Open, Asia's richest national Open. "It's a great week, great tournament and great sponsors. People were very enthusiastic all week and I had a lot of support. I cannot wait to get back - I had a great time.

"I will be back for at least the next two years. Hopefully I will get used to the weather. The golf course played well, hopefully they keep it like this, nice and tough. With quality players coming through the tournament will get stronger from now," said Els.

Australian Brad Kennedy took third place with his three-round total of 208 while China's Liang Wen-chong settled for fourth position on 209. Shiv Kapur of India was fifth on 211, with Thailand's Prom Meesawat and Anthony Kang of the United States in a share of sixth.

Leading final round scores

205 - Adam Scott (AUS) 70-69-66, Ernie Els (RSA) 71-65-69

(Scott beats Els by two strokes in a three-hole play-off)

208 - Brad Kennedy (AUS) 71-67-70

209 - Liang Wen-chong (CHN) 73-68-68

211 - Shiv Kapur (IND) 70-69-72

212 - Prom Meesawat (THA) 72-70-70, Anthony Kang (USA) 70-71-71

Prom Meesawat213 - Lee Westwood (ENG) 73-69-71, Unho Park (AUS) 72-69-72, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 68-73-72, Angel Cabrera (ARG) 69-68-76

214 - Mardan Mamat (SIN) 72-69-73, Shingo Katayama (JPN) 69-69-76, Scott Strange (AUS) 67-69-78

215 - Rashid Ismail (MAS) 71-74-70, Yasin Ali (ENG) 74-70-71, Lee Sung (KOR) 72-71-72, Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 70-72-73

216 - Lin Keng-chi (TPE) 71-73-72, S.S.P. Chowrasia (IND) 72-71-73, Adam Blyth (AUS) 72-70-74, Edward Loar (USA) 73-68-75, Nick O'Hern (AUS) 69-72-75, Arjun Singh (IND) 74-67-75

217 - Jason Knutzon (USA) 74-73-70, Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 71-76-70, Gaurav Ghei (IND) 74-71-72, Yeh Chang-ting (TPE) 73-71-73, Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 67-76-74, Chan Song (KOR) 73-67-77

218 - Frankie Minoza (PHI) 73-73-72, Chris Rodgers (ENG) 74-70-74, Lam Chih Bing (SIN) 73-70-75, Tim Clark (RSA) 73-69-76

Note: Fourth and final round was cancelled on Sunday.