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Els able to enjoy dramatic Lytham finale

Ernie Els is congratulated by his caddie, Ricci Roberts, after his final putt in The 141st Open

If Ernie Els was feeling any pressure as he began his final hole in The 141st Open, it certainly did not show.

Ten years on from his maiden Open victory at Muirfield in 2002, Els was once again firmly in contention for the Claret Jug thanks to a thrilling back-nine charge at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

Birdies at the 10th, 12th and 14th had lifted Els to within striking distance of long-time leader Adam Scott, who was beginning to falter down the stretch.

The Big Easy could have been forgiven for tightening up as the prospect of a second Open triumph became increasingly realistic.

Yet Els, who had finished second and third in his two previous appearances at Lytham, soon provided proof he was amazingly relaxed, despite the tension of the situation.

In the latest instalment of our Caddie Stories series, Ricci Roberts – the man on the bag for all four of Els’ major victories – recalled a memorable moment on the 18th tee in 2012.

“He just sort of put the foot on the the pedal on the back nine,” said Roberts. “We got to 18 and he stood on the tee and he’s like, ‘what do you think?’

“I said: ‘Well, look, for me it’s a 3-iron short or you’ve got to take it on with the driver.’ And he said: ‘Relax, I got this.’

“He pulled out the driver, pegged it up, and he hit it with this little fade. It just came out pure.

“He just bent down, picked up the tee, and he goes: ‘So, Roberts, what do you think about that then?’”

Not long after, Roberts was placed under pressure himself as he was called in for guidance on the most crucial of putts with Els having left himself a 20-footer for birdie.

“He hadn’t really asked me to read a line all day and now it comes, have a look at this one,” explained Roberts with a grin.

“I said: ‘It’s inside left, don’t leave the hole.’ Well, he bulleted this thing and it was like a rat down a drainpipe (as the ball found its target).”

The Royal Lytham & St Annes crowd react to Ernie Els' birdie putt on the 18th at The Open in 2012

The crowd at Royal Lytham & St Annes goes wild as Els birdies the 18th

That birdie, for a closing 68, ultimately proved decisive as Els prevailed by one stroke from Scott, who suffered the pain of bogeying each of the final four holes.

Roberts is eager to highlight the significance of Els’ fantastic finish in putting Scott under strain.

“A lot of people have in the past said: ‘Ah well, Adam Scott handed it to him,’” Roberts added. “I said: ‘No, he didn’t hand it to him. Ernie created the pressure.'

“And people don’t understand what that pressure is about. It’s a very strange thing and he created the pressure.”

For the second time in their long association together spanning almost three decades, Els and Roberts were able to revel in a particularly special walk as The Open drew to a close.

“When you come up that 18th hole on Sunday at an Open Championship, it’s the greatest feeling in the world,” said the caddie. “I mean, it’s very difficult to describe to people what that feeling is like.

“I can only surmise that it’s like being in an FA Cup final or a World Cup final, the Rugby World Cup final, Cricket World Cup final, something like that.

“It is the most awesome feeling on the planet.”

“When you come up that 18th hole on Sunday at an Open Championship, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.” Ricci Roberts