CARY, N.C. – Ernie Els watched as the clubhouse leader at 12-under while the rest of the field scrapped to pull even with him during the final round of play at the 2020 SAS Championship at Prestonwood Country Club on Sunday.
The PGA Tour Champions rookie dropped birdie putts on 17 and 18 to cap off a 6-under par 66 finish and vaulted to the top of the leaderboard following a 40-plus foot flatstick stroke to end his day.
Under increasingly wet conditions, fellow Hall of Famer Colin Montgomerie tried to pull even to force a playoff.
However, the 2017 SAS champion couldn’t do it, missing a long birdie putt attempt on 18, and gave Els the honor of hoisting the championship crystal.
While Montgomerie was the closest contender to Els at -11, a number of notables struggled to post birdies down the stretch.
Another Hall of Famer, Vijay Singh claimed third place at -10, with a two-under 70 on the day.
Claiming his second Tour win of the season, Els also took over first place in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
Asked what he envisioned his final round to play out like, Els said that he was capable of a productive finish.
“I had 64 in mind, you know. Especially in the final round, there were so many guys bunched,” Els said.
“I was coming from 6-under which I reckoned was a good score. But then the conditions helped out, and became really tough. So, 66 just squeaked in there.”
Els drains winning putt on 18 (pgatour.com)
Leading up to Sunday
Round 2 Leaderboard
|T1.||Darren Clarke||-9||69-66 – 135|
|T1.||Colin Montgomerie||-9||68-67 – 135|
|T1.||Woody Austin||-9||66-69 – 135|
|T4.||Vijay Singh||-8||70-66 – 136|
|T4.||Bernhard Langer||-8||70-66 – 136|
|T4.||David Toms||-8||69-67 – 136|
Round 1 Leaderboard
|1.||Woody Austin||-6||33-33 – 66|
|T2.||Corey Pavin||-5||33-34 – 67|
|T2.||Gene Sauers||-5||34-33 – 67|
|T4.||Marco Dawson||-4||31-37 – 68|
|T4.||Colin Montgomerie||-4||34-34 – 68|
|T4.||Kirk Triplett||-4||36-32 – 68|
Notables: Sunday was the 10th time Montgomerie started the final round as a leader/co-leader, and first since 2018. At the 2017 SAS Championship, Montgomerie was part of a three-way tie for the lead at 8-under through 36 holes. He closed with an 8-under 64 and won by three. His best finish this season was a T3 at the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship…This was the second straight year Austin was a 36-hole co-leader at the SAS Championship. Last year, he closed with a 1-under 71 and finished T3… Langer was eyeing a third SAS Championship which would have given him his sixth tournament he has won at least three times: Insperity Invitational (4), The Senior Open Championship (4), Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship (3), Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai (3), Chubb Classic (3). Langer has won eight times since turning 60 in 2017.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport