Ernie Els has revealed how he plotted Adam Scott’s stunning demise at Royal Lytham three years ago and then delighted in the Australian’s resolute response to win the Masters.
Els admits he still feels for great mate Scott after he blew a four-shot lead with four holes to play at the 2012 British Open.
But despite most people – including Scott at the time – believing the Queenslander’s collapse was all his own doing and that he gifted the Claret Jug to Els, golf’s Big Easy doesn’t remember it that way.
Playing several groups in front of Scott, Els knew if he birdied the last hole to get within two strokes of the lead he’d build pressure and be well in the hunt for a second Open title.
“I was still quite far behind but I was walking to the 18th tee after Scotty was going to 16 after bogeying 15,” Els told AAP before his opening round of the 2015 Open at St Andrews.
“I could just see the crowd was getting excited and it’s amazing how a crowd can pull for you.
“I knew if I could make the putt on 18 they were going to go nuts. That’s exactly what happened and it just put a little bit of extra pressure on Adam.
“I don’t know if it did anything to affect the outcome, but I just felt that I still had a chance.
“You never know in a major.”
Els knows Scott must have been shattered by his infamous near miss, but believes it proved the making of the future world No.1 who bounced back to win the 2013 Masters two majors later after leading midway through the US PGA Championship the following month.
“He probably should have had that one (at Lytham),” Els said.
“But he obviously got the Masters later on. I’m glad he didn’t feel too bitter about it because to take a loss like that must be very, very devastating.
“But you’re not a real contender if you haven’t gone through that and he’s put himself in that situation many times and he’s won now and it seems like he’s in the top 10 of the majors every time now.
“So it just toughens you up if you learn from it.”
Els and Scott played together the week after that dramatic final day of the 2012 Open.
“I just wanted to stick with him because he’s such a good buddy of mine,” Els said.
“We spend so much time together and I just wanted him to not lose faith and be too hard on himself, and he wasn’t.
“Winning the Masters, the next one, he did it the right way. It’s a credit to him.”