Ernie Els shoots 65, wins Principal Charity Classic by two strokes

golf03 June 2024 13:20| © Reuters
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Ernie Els © Getty Images

Tied for the lead entering the final round, Ernie Els of South Africa shot a 7-under 65 on Sunday to win by two strokes at the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa.

Els, 54, finished at 21-under 195 at Wakonda Club to seal his first Champions Tour win this season in his fourth appearance at the event.

Els sank a pair of birdies on the front nine, then heated up on the back with three more. He also picked up an eagle on the par-5 13th to give him some breathing room.

"It's very special," said Els, who entered the Principal Charity Classic 16th in the Schwab Cup Standings through eight events. "I haven't won for a while. I've had quite a few chances, but it gets tougher when you don't get it over the line."

Feeling the push from second-place finisher and defending champion Stephen Ames (66 on Sunday) of Canada and others, Els stressed the importance of his timely success on 13.

"I was lucky enough to make birdie on 11," he said. "I didn't hit a very good approach, I hit a good putt. And then 12, but 13 was big. To make eagle late on the back nine, that was key. It got me into a two-shot lead."

Els, who will take home $300 000, has three top-10 finishes this season.

After the front nine, Els, Ames, Bernhard Langer of Germany and Rod Pampling of Australia were tied for the lead. Pampling and Els had shared the lead after Saturday's second round.

Ames, who had four birdies and a bogey on the front nine, birdied Nos. 10 and 11 before adding a birdie on No 15. But with Els' success on the back nine, Ames couldn't catch up and finished at 19-under 197.

"We changed a couple things in my routine and kind of triggered everything off for me, started feeling the putts a lot better," said Ames, who felt his swing was off at the event and had his first putting lesson this week. "I hit some really good putts coming down the end and all week, so I was very happy with that result."

Pampling (69), David Duval (67) and Langer (68) finished in a three-way tie for third at 17 under.

Vijay Singh of Fiji (68) and Heath Slocum (67) tied for sixth at 16 under.