VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) — Ernie Els won his seventh World Match Play Championship title Sunday by beating Angel Cabrera 6 and 4 in the final at Wentworth.
Els took the lead on the first hole, with Cabrera taking a bogey, and the South African stayed in front throughout the day to claim his first victory of the year.
“It is absolutely a dream come true. I would never in my wildest dreams have thought I could win this seven times,” said Els, who also won in 1994-96 and 2002-04. “It truly feels unbelievable. The course is obviously my home course. It has been a great week.”
Els, ranked No. 5 in the world, earned $2.03 million for the win.
He led by three holes after the first 18, then extended his lead to four at the 20th. Cabrera, this year’s U.S. Open champion, won two of the next six to cut his deficit to two with nine to play.
But Els won the short 28th with a 15-foot birdie putt and then won three in a row from the 30th, sealing the win with a 10-footer at the 32nd.
After his win, Els took a private plane to Paris, where South Africa was to play Argentina on Sunday night in a semifinal of the Rugby World Cup.
“I hope the Pumas have more luck that I had,” said Cabrera, an Argentine.
Els, who lives on the Wentworth Estate southwest of London, redesigned the West Course at Wentworth in 2005 when he did not play because of a knee injury.
“Ernie is the king of Wentworth,” said Cabrera, who earned $818,500. “He lives here, he knows the course and it is his own back yard. I’ve had a great week and played well all week. I played my best today but it wasn’t enough.”