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Monday, July 23, 2012

A Major Choke at St. Annes

Tiger who? Despite the fact that the world's most famous golfer was out of the running down the stretch, all eyes were on the 18th hole of the Open Championship when Adam Scott arrived at the tee.

Adam Scott, looking for his first major victory, could taste it after playing 68 holes of solid golf. The Australian started the final round of play with a four-shot lead and continued to roll Sunday. But from 6 shots back came Ernie Els who surged his way up the leaderboard, birdying four holes on the back nine. Back in the clubhouse with a one-stroke lead and awaiting his fate, was Els. Adversely, Scott had bogeyed the 15, 16 and 17, yet still had a chance to force a playoff on the 18th if he could just make par.

It came down to a seven-foot putt that went left. No par. No playoff. No win for a watery-eyed Adam Scott. Instead, four consecutive bogeys on the final holes of the Open Championship.

Brutal.

Four-shot lead with four holes to play. It was a collapse of Norman-esque proportion, Scott's fellow Aussie, often times remembered for all of the wrong reasons.

Scott and Els, two men of different eras and different countries, yet both very likable guys whose play on the back nine gave viewers a taste of the best and worst that the game of golf has to offer.

Els, the affable elder statesman (at age 42), getting to play comeback kid for his first major title since the PGA Championship in 2007, had to put a smile on the face of anyone who has ever played the sport.

On the other hand, if you've ever hit the links, your heart was likely breaking right alongside Scott's as we all know just how quickly the magic can slip away out on the course.

Els finished at 7-under 273, with a one-stroke lead over Scott. Ouch.

Going into the Open Championship, World No. 1 Luke Donald and of course, Tiger Woods, were the two names on everyone's tongue.

While Woods absolutely plays a role in getting eyeballs to the TV initially, great play and dramatics will keep people watching, whether Tiger is a threat to win or not.

Luckily for the sport and golf fans alike, the final round of the Open Championship gave us the perfect combination of joy and heartbreak to keep us glued to the TV.

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