Els edges Goosen at South African Open

Ernie Els held off rival Retief Goosen to win the South Africa Open championship by a single stroke at Durban Country Club on Sunday.

Els and Goosen finished with a six-under each in an enthralling head-to-head clash between the top two South African golfers of modern times.

Goosen from northern city Polokwane shared the lead after the first round, Johannesburg-born Els led by two strokes after the second, just one after the third and never relinquished over the final 18 holes.

Just one shot ahead eight holes into the second of two rounds played Sunday, Els sank a birdie putt at nine to grab a two-shot advantage over his long-time domestic and international opponent.

And that lead stretched to four by 14 as Els drilled a 230-yard second shot close to the pin and dropped an eagle putt into the hole while Goosen had to settle for a bitter-sweet birdie.

As the second oldest national golf championship after the British Open turned 100 this week, it was fitting that locals occupied the top places with Louis Oosthuizen (66) third and Charl Schwartzel (67) coming in fourth.