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Ernie Els shoots 65, wins Principal Charity Classic by two strokes

PGA: Main Charity ClassicJune 2, 2024; Des Moines, Iowa, USA; Ernie Els celebrates with the winner’s trophy after the final round of the Principal Charity Classic at Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Iowa. Mandatory credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Tied for the lead entering the final round, South Africa’s Ernie Els shot a 7-under 65 to win by two strokes on Sunday at the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa.

Els, 54, finished at 21-under 195 at Wakonda Club to seal his first Champions Tour victory this season in his fourth appearance at the event.

Els sank a pair of birdies on the front nine before making three more birdies on the back. He also picked up an eagle on the par-5 13th to give him some breathing room.

“It’s very special,” said Els, who entered the Principal Charity Classic 16th in eight events in the Schwab Cup standings. “I haven’t won for a while. I’ve had quite a few chances, but it becomes more difficult if you don’t get it over the line.”

Els felt the pressure from runner-up and defending champion Stephen Ames (66 on Sunday) of Canada and others, and stressed the importance of his timely success on 13.

“I was lucky enough to make a birdie on 11,” he said. “I didn’t hit a very good approach, I hit a good putt. And then 12, but 13 was big. To make Eagle late on the back nine, that was the key. It put me up by two shots.”

Els, who takes home $300,000, has three top-10 finishes this season.

After the first nine, Els, Ames, Bernhard Langer from Germany and Rod Pampling from Australia were tied. Pampling and Els shared the lead after Saturday’s second lap.

Ames, who had four birdies and a bogey on the front nine, made birdies at Nos. 10 and 11 before adding a birdie at No. 15. But with Els’ success on the back nine, Ames couldn’t catch up, finishing at 19-under 197.

“We changed a few things in my routine and that really set everything in motion for me. I started feeling the putts a lot better,” said Ames, who felt his swing was off during the event and this got his first putting lesson this week. “I hit some really good putts at the end and throughout the week, so I was really happy with that result.”

Pampling (69), David Duval (67) and Langer (68) tied for third at 17 under.

Fiji’s Vijay Singh (68) and Heath Slocum (67) were in sixth place at 16 under.

–Field-level media