Els proud of near miss after Bhullar wins Fiji International

By Iain Strachan 5 August 2018 2
Els proud of near miss after Bhullar wins Fiji International

Ernie Els says he did everything he could to try and win the Fiji International on Sunday, the South African great having ultimately finished in a tie for third behind first-time European Tour winner Gaganjeet Bhullar.

Four-time major champion Els turned back the clock and made a flying start with an eagle at the first, going on to drop just one shot and sink six birdies throughout his final round at Natadola Bay.

Two of those birdies came at 17 and 18 as the 48-year-old posted a seven-under 65 to reach 12 under for the tournament. 

Australian Anthony Quayle fared even better, though, as two eagles, one bogey and six birdies saw him card a 63 for outright second. 

"I did almost as much as I could," said Els. 

"I set out to try to shoot 65, which I did, and Anthony just played unbelievable. Jeez, what is it, 29 on the back nine? That's unbelievable stuff. Great golf and well deserved.

"I'm pleased with my round and pleased with the tournament and it's been really a lot of fun in Fiji."

Els ended the tournament in a share of third alongside New Zealand's Ben Campbell, a four-stroke leader after the second round who had faded on Saturday.

But it was Bhullar who held off the charge of the chasing pack over the closing 18 holes.

The overnight leader's solid six-under 66, including a crucial eagle three at 17, was enough for the 30-year-old, a nine-time Asian Tour winner, to taste European Tour success. 

"I've been playing really well," he said. "It was just a matter of time and I'm glad it happened on this stage and really happy to be back on the European Tour.

"I played two full seasons back in 2013 and 2014 on the European Tour and then I had to come back to the Asian Tour because of my injury. So I think this victory is really emotional for me in terms of playing opportunity and getting back on the European soil."

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Iain Strachan