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Els Cruises to Victory in Dubai

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Ernie Els shot a 3-under 69 in the final round to cruise to a four-shot victory at the Dubai Desert Classic Sunday. Els became the first two-time winner of this event with his 72-hole score of 16-under-par 272.
 
The South African has emerged from a winless 2001 on the European Tour to post two victories over the first months of the new season. Els has been active on the American circuit as well, outlasting Tiger Woods last week at the Genuity Championship for his first PGA Tour victory since 2000.
 
'I've had a great start to the season with my three wins and I'm really enjoying my golf,' said Els, who captured the Heineken Classic five weeks ago in Australia. 'There is no reason why I shouldn't go on from here to have a great year. Actually, it's already a great year, I just hope I can make it even better.'

 More from Els on his win

Els held a three-shot lead over Fasth at the start of the day and saw the margin shrink with a bogey at the first. He responded with back-to-back birdies from the second but added another bogey at the fourth. Meanwhile, Fasth had laid the foundation for a challenge with an eagle at the par-5 third.
 
The Swede tied Els with a birdie at the seventh before disaster struck on the following hole. Fasth hit his tee shot into a bush and his second shot found the desert. Two shots later he was on the green where he three-putted for a triple-bogey.
 
'I gave it a good effort but it wasn't to be,' said Fasth. 'It took me seven holes to catch him before the disaster on the eighth.'
 
With a new three-shot lead, Els added back-to-back birdies around the turn to climb to 15-under. Fasth managed a birdie at the 10th to move to minus-11 but he could not catch Els.
 
Fasth got to within two of the lead after back-to-back birdies from the 12th while Els was perfect on the back nine. The Big Easy coasted with five straight pars until a birdie at the 16th coupled with a bogey by Fasth at the same hole opened the lead to four.
 
Els parred the remaining two holes for the victory, his eighth overall on the European Tour. The 32-year-old notched his breakthrough victory on tour at this event in 1994.
 
This marked the first time Els has won back-to-back titles since he followed his 1997 U.S. Open victory with a win at the Buick Classic.
 
Fasth finished alone in second at 12-under 276, while fellow countryman Carl Pettersson was a shot further back at 11-under. Pettersson has been on a roll this year, although he hasn't reached the winner's circle. The 24-year-old has posted three top-five finishes.
 
'I really enjoyed my day out there and playing in the last groups,' said Pettersson. 'Obviously you get nervous but it is something I want to do more often. I feel my game gets better the closer I get to the top.'
 
Brian Davis posted a 5-under 67 to place fourth at 9-under 279. Fellow Englishman Gary Evans (68) was joined by second-round leader Charlie Wi (69) of Korea two shots further back at 7-under 281.
 
A group of five players were at 6-under 282, including Darren Clarke (69). He was joined by Scotland's Andrew Oldcorn (72), Simon Dyson (70) of England, Sweden's Mathias Gronberg (69) and Bradley Dredge (69) of Wales.
 
European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance was part of a larger group at 5-under 283 that included Michael Hoey, the low amateur in the field.
 
Defending champion Thomas Bjorn closed with a 1-over 73 to finish in a tie for 20th at 4-under 284.
 
Full field scores from the Dubai Desert Classic