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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sudden-Death Triumph Gives Els the U.S. Open

OAKMONT, Pennsylvania -- The U.S. Open asks that its champion stand up. Stand up to the narrow fairways. Stand up to the atrocious rough. Stand up to the asphalt greens. Stand up and identify yourself. Monday, Ernie Els was the last man standing, identifying himself, at the age of 24, as one of the best players in the world. A routine par on the second extra playoff hole, the 20th of the day, gave Els the championship of the 94th U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club in a three-man playoff. Els triumphed over Loren Roberts on the second sudden-death hole. Both Els and Roberts shot a 3-over-par score of 74 during the regulation 18 while the third member of the playoff, Colin Montgomerie, was left behind after shooting a 78. Roberts drove into the right rough on the 11th hole, the second extra one, then popped a shot into the front bunker. He came out way short and while his long putt hit the hole, it was going way too fast to go in and he made bogey. Els' approach finished 20 feet from the hole, and after running the first putt three feet past, he made the comeback for the victory and his first major championship and the second Open title to be held by a South African. Gary Player, his inspiration, won it in 1965. The champion of the U.S. Open began with a bogey and a triple bogey. After the second hole, Els wondered just what he was doing, why he missed that short putt on 18 on Sunday that forced him into this playoff. He was having those thoughts as his pitch shot from the third tee rolled off the second green. No kidding. This threesome played the second hole Monday morning like a group of 20-handicappers on the Black Course at Bethpage. Maybe worse. Had this been match play, Roberts would have won the hole with his bogey. Alfred Hitchcock would have reveled in the diabolical nature of the drama that unfolded. Briefly, Els made a triple bogey, hitting his approach shot over the green into a bush, taking a penalty drop on the third tee, making an impossible pitch that rolled off the front of the green and taking three more shots to get down from them. Montgomerie botched the hole for a double bogey. Roberts' bogey five looked a birdie in comparison.