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Johannesburg – Surprise British Open champion Ernie Els had to settle for second place behind triple centurion Hashim Amla on the front pages of South African newspapers Monday.
“South Africa's day of champions” read the headline across the top of The New Age with pictures of Els holding the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham in northwest England and Amla acknowledging the crowd at The Oval in London.
“Els wins British Open; Proteas on verge of victory against England” said the sub-headline as the youngest Johannesburg-published daily devoted its front page to the sporting achievements.
Els snatched a one-stroke victory over Australian Adam Scott, who imploded over the closing holes and bogeyed the last four as the wind turned the links course into a treacherous test.
Amla became the first South African to hit a triple ton, scoring 311 not out as South Africa declared on 637-2 at tea on the fourth day and then took four England wickets before the close.
A picture of fellow centurion Jacques Kallis congratulating Amla after his extraordindary feat dominated the front page of The Star above the headline “Mighty Hash lauded after feat”.
“Hashim Amla is known as the 'Mighty Hash' on social media websites like Twitter, but yesterday he became the Incredible Hash when he scored the first triple century by a South Africa,” the newspaper said.
The Star's golf correspondent at Royal Lytham wrote: “It was, when measured up against 152 years of Open Championship history, one of the greatest comebacks ever.”
“South African domination” was the bold headline across the main sport page of The Star and beneath were pictures of a clenched-fisted Els after a birdie and Amla hitting out against England.
Business Day pictured Amla celebrating his feat, as did The Times below the headline “Hashim the Magnificent” while the Sowetan focused on the likely move of national team capatain Steven Pienaar back to Everton from Tottenham.
“Amla hits triple ton” was the main Times sport-page headline, detailing Amla's tribute to batting partners Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis for helping him become the first South African to pass 300 runs in an innings.
“Big day for our Big Easy” was the headline above a British Open report that began: “It took a decade, but Ernie Els captured his fourth major and his second British Open in dramatic fashion”.
Completing a wonderful weekend for South Africa was the 30-17away triumph of Coastal Sharks over title holders Queensland Reds of Australia in a Super 15 play-off which earned them a semi-final showdown at Western Stormers. – Sapa-AFP