Ernie Els at his majestic best

If Wentworth echoes with past glories for the South African, his performance offered him a tantalising hint that Nirvana may just be around the corner, writes Lawrence Donegan.

"I wish I could take

In any case, the brief moments of success have been far outweighed by disappointments, the latest of which came only recently when he played himself into contention down the stretch at the Dunhill Links at St Andrews only to take a triple-bogey seven at the 16th hole after putting into a bunker.

"I don't care how many years you have been in the profession, if you have a stuff-up like that it sticks in your mind for a while. You have to just try your best to get it out of your mind," he said.

Clearly, Els's best was good enough. He played moderately in his semifinal match against Henrik Stenson but otherwise he has looked every inch a golfer with three majors to his credit.

Cabrera gifted him the first hole in final when he failed to get down in two from a greenside bunker but thereafter the South African earned everything that came his way with some sensational putting. "It might seem that I'm a very patient guy but the truth is I'm a very impatient person when it comes to getting results, and I haven't had the results go my way this year either in Europe or in America. I've finished second or lost in play-offs or been there or thereabouts. So to win and play the way I did this week is very satisfying," he said. "Hopefully, this will open up doors for me and lead to some other wins."

It can be taken as read that this was a reference to next year's Masters, a tournament where Els has done everything through the years but depart the premises wearing a green blazer.

What it was not a reference, too, however, is the European tour Order of Merit - an accolade he has never won. The victory put Els at the top of the European money, ahead of Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose, but he will not be taking part in the end-of-season event where the title is usually decided. In what the European tour will no doubt describe as a scheduling conflict - unkind souls would say cock-up - the Volvo Masters at Valderrama will tee off at the same time as an event in Singapore where a number of leading players, the South African included, are thought to be receiving hefty incentives to play.

Suffice to say, Els will not be changing his plans. "The end of the year is when you get the wheelbarrow out. You have got to cash in," he said.