DORAL, Fla. — Ernie Els showed his South African protege what it takes to win a World Golf Championship. Just as important was that he showed himself how to win again, too.
Ending the longest drought of his 20-year career, Els played the final 23 holes on the Blue Monster without a bogey and closed with a 6-under 66 on Sunday to win the CA Championship by four shots over 25-year-old Charl Schwartzel.
Els finished at 18-under 270. It was Els’ 61st victory worldwide, and 17th on the PGA Tour, and moved him to No. 8 in the world ranking. The victory was worth $1.4 million, and moved him past Colin Montgomerie and atop the PGA European Tour career money list with about $33.6 million.
It was far closer than the margin suggested.
Schwartzel, in his first time on a world stage, refused to let Els get away from him. Els was clinging to a one-shot lead as he stood over a 25-foot par putt on the 14th hole, and the Big Easy was relieved to see it fall on the final turn.
Schwartzel, a houseguest of Els the last two weeks, caught a bad break on the 15th when his ball plugged in a front bunker, and he knocked that into a back bunker on his way to a bogey. He missed short putts on the next two
holes and closed with a 70.
The 40-year-old Els last won two years ago at the Honda Classic, which he won while warming up on the range for a possible playoff. He became only the fifth player with multiple victories in the World Golf Championships, joining Tiger Woods, Darren Clarke, Geoff Ogilvy and Phil Mickelson.
Padraig Harrington fell out of the with three straight bogeys on the back nine, closing with a 72 to tie for third at 11-under 277 along with Matt Kuchar (68) and Martin Kaymer of Germany, who had a 69 and moved up to No. 7 in the world. Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who was never in the mix, shot a 68 and tied for 14th.