HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) -- Ernie Els rattled?
''I guess so,'' said Els, who led Stewart Cink by five shots with 12 holes remaining Sunday at the MCI Classic, but lost to Cink by that many three hours later.
''I just lost it, didn't make the shots when I needed to,'' said Els, who shot a 74 to finish in a third-place tie with Singh, Love, Edward Fryatt, Dan Forsman and Larry Mize.
While Els floundered, Cink soared. His 65 gave him a two-stroke victory over Tom Lehman, who also shot a 65. Cink had birdies on three of his last four holes to wrap up his second career PGA Tour victory.
''I was proud of myself the way I hit the ball into the greens on the last four holes,'' said Cink, who won $540,000. ''I couldn't imagine scripting it any better.''
Els and Love probably could. Both appeared to have things in hand at times this week at a course where they have excelled. But mistakes -- Els had bogeys on five of nine holes during one stretch after only three on the first 54 -- cost them.
The two were ahead of the field after Saturday. Els was at 12 under and cruising with two remarkable saves -- he parred the fifth hole after hitting three bunkers and made a 1-foot birdie putt on the sixth.
But Els' game came apart after he stubbed a chip on the eighth hole that led to a bogey. He flopped on a flop shot three holes later for another bogey, his third in five holes. Els pushed a 6-foot par putt wide on the par-3 14th and was never in it again.
''I think the bogey on eight kind of got to me a little bit,'' he said. ''I started looking at the scoreboards.''
Love had gotten within two shots of Els with birdies on the first and third holes. But consecutive bogeys on the sixth and seventh took him out of the running.
''I started good, but then I played bad all the way to 18,'' said Love, a four-time MCI champion.
Meanwhile, Cink and Lehman charged to the top.
Cink had birdies on the sixth, eighth and ninth and turned just a shot behind Els.
''I knew after the front nine, I could have a shot at making a charge,'' Cink said. ''But I wanted to make sure I was pushing forward.''
He did that when it counted.
Cink slipped in an 8-foot putt for birdie on the 15th, a 6-footer for birdie to take the lead on the 16th. On the 18th, needing a par to win -- with Lehman practicing putts in hopes of a playoff -- Cink hit his approach shot 20 feet from the flag and rolled that in for his victory.
Lehman was surprised he had a shot at the championship. His front-nine 31 left him two behind Els and a birdie on the 17th gave him a one-stroke lead. But he barely missed a 17-foot putt on the final hole and headed to the practice range to loosen up.
Lehman said Cink, an All-American at Georgia Tech, is underappreciated.
''I think if you do your history on Stewart, you know what he accomplished in college and what he's accomplished so far on the tour, you realize that this is an awfully fine golf man,'' Lehman said.
Singh's play finally had him looking like the latest golfer with a green jacket in his closet. He had five birdies on the front nine to nose his way on to the leaderboard. He came up short, however, meaning no Augusta winner since Bernhard Langer in 1985 has followed with a victory at Harbour Town.
''Today, it was fun,'' Singh said. ''Too bad I ran out of holes.''
Divots: Love, who lost by five shots, played Nos. 8-10 in 4 over Saturday and Sunday. ... Rich Beem had to withdraw after a bizarre accident between the eighth green and ninth tee. A golf cart drove through a heavy rope and fence stakes that then struck Beem. It was painful enough to send him to a hospital. He was released in good condition. ... Defending MCI champion Glen Day, who shot 274 and made birdie on the first playoff hole to win in 1999, was finished before the lead groups took off, shooting a 2-over 286. ... Dudley Hart's front-nine 31 included five 3s, four in a row.
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