Dunhill Championship winner Bickerton 'in shock' after learning of Els' triple

MALELANE, South Africa -- Ernie Els suffered
a final hole meltdown to hand England's John Bickerton a third
European Tour title in the Alfred Dunhill Championship on

The world No. 5 came to the par-5 18th hole at
Leopard Creek Country Club with a two-shot lead over Bickerton,
who had earlier fired a 4-under 68 to finish
13-under for the tournament.

But the three-time major champion twice found the water
surrounding the green to leave with a triple-bogey 8,
finishing one stroke behind Bickerton.

England's Lee Slattery was tied with Els in second place
after a 1-under 71 on Sunday.

The 37-year-old Bickerton did not watch the closing hole of
the tournament and was in disbelief when he was told he had won.

"I'm in shock. I was just around the corner talking to a
cameraman and I thought I might have a chance of finishing
second," he said.

"I had no idea what was happening behind me and it's all a
bit sudden."

Bickerton, who began the day four strokes behind Els, made a
fast start courtesy of an eagle three at the second hole.

He picked up another birdie at the par-4 6th hole, but
his putter let him down on Nos. 9 and 10 as he missed two short
par putts.

The Dubai-resident was solid thereafter and collected
another three birdies, including a 20-foot putt for a three at
17, while not dropping another shot through to the end of his round.

Slattery, who may have had a chance of winning but missed a
4-foot birdie putt at 13 to draw even with Els, pushed his
second shot into the water on the 15th and then left a 10-foot
birdie putt on 18 that would have forced a playoff with
Bickerton on the edge of the hole.

"Ernie will be gutted, I shook his hand but what can you
say? I feel bad for him, but he's won a lot and he'll win a lot
more," Bickerton said.

"I said I was coming here to just enjoy the week, but I felt
comfortable throughout and I putted solidly, that's how you make
a score," said Bickerton, who was the only golfer to be under
par for all four rounds.