American Todd Hamilton beats Els in playoff to win British Open

(Troon, Scotland-AP) July 19, 2004 - Todd Hamilton didn't carry a PGA Tour card a year ago, but on Sunday he was carrying the Claret Jug.

Hamilton, 38, became the sixth consecutive American to win the British Open at Royal Troon, doing it by outlasting South African Ernie Els in a four-hole playoff.

Hamilton shot nothing but pars in the playoff, taking advantage of a bogey by Els on the third extra hole, the par-three 17th.

Hamilton shot a final-round 69 that left him tied with Els at 10-under through regulation. Hamilton's only hiccup Sunday came when he bogeyed the final hole of regulation, opening the door for Els to force a playoff.

Els had rallied to tie Hamilton at 10-under-par 274 with birdies on 16 and 17. Els missed birdie putts that could have won the tournament both times they played the 18th hole.

Hamilton's victory at Royal Troon comes four months after he earned his first PGA victory at the Honda Classic.

Phil Mickelson finished third, missing the playoff by one stroke. Mickelson led after sinking a 15-foot par putt on the tenth hole, but he missed a four-foot par putt on the 11th and never held the outright lead after that. Mickelson has finished first, second and third in the year's three majors.

Lee Westwood finished in fourth, four strokes back and one ahead of Davis Love III and Thomas Levet. Scott Verplank and Retief Goosen were 4-under. Tiger Woods keeps his number-one ranking after tying Mike Weir for ninth at 3-under.

posted 8:15am by Chris Rees