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Swing 2007

Els Ends His Drought; Ochoa Wins by 11 Shots

Ernie Els earns first PGA Tour win since the '04 American Express Championship.
Ernie Els earns first PGA Tour win since the '04 American Express Championship. (By Sam Greenwood -- Getty Images)
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Associated Press
Monday, March 3, 2008; Page E03

This time, Ernie Els could enjoy someone else's final-round misfortune.

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Ending nearly a four-year drought between PGA Tour victories, Els shot a 3-under-par 67 yesterday to win the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. He finished at 6 under, one shot better than Luke Donald (71) and two ahead of Nathan Green (67).

"It's been a long time coming," Els said.

Els and Mark Calcavecchia were tied for the lead as the sun began setting on PGA National. But Calcavecchia hit into a greenside bunker at the par-3 15th, and his shot from the sand looked fine when it hit the green.

Somehow, it never stopped rolling.

"I certainly never dreamed it would run into the water," Calcavecchia said. "It just didn't grab and just kept rolling and rolling and rolling. And that was it."

The ball came to rest on a rock ledge across the green. Calcavecchia walked over, tossed the ball into the water and made a double bogey to give Els the outright lead. Els made a cool par on the par-5 finishing hole, then waited to see if anyone would match his score.

No one did, although Donald had a chance on the last. His birdie chip from just off the green stopped a couple feet shy of the cup, sealing Els's win.

"To win over here, it's been really my goal," Els said. "So it's a great feeling."

And with that, Els got the huge shot of confidence that he's sought for so long, along with his first PGA Tour win since the 2004 American Express Championship in Ireland. Plus, he'll jump a spot to third in the world rankings, passing Steve Stricker.

"I really played pretty well today," Els said.

Calcavecchia (73), Robert Allenby (70) and Matt Jones (73) tied for fourth, three shots back. Brian Davis, who was at 10 under earlier in the week and led at the midway mark, shot his second straight 73 and finished in a five-way tie for seventh, four shots off the winning score.

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