Els hangs on for the win in Germany

Ernie Els birdied his final hole on Sunday to hang on for a 1-stroke victory at the BMW International Open.

Els entered the final hole at Golf Club Gut Larchenhof holding a 1-stroke advantage over two-time BMW International Open winner Thomas Bjorn, who birdied the final hole to put pressure on the South African.

But Els also converted his birdie attempt to avoid a playoff and capture his 28th career win on the European Tour.

Els' birdie closed out a 3-under 69 to finish the tournament at 18-under-par 271.

"It's great to get my name on this wonderful trophy. Obviously it gives you a lot of confidence," said Els. "Wire-to-wire you've got the pressure, every night you've got to sleep on it, guys are chasing you. So this is quite a week for me."

Bjorn also carded a 69 on Sunday to wind up second at 17-under.

Alexander Levy (71) took sole possession of third at 16-under, while Bernd Wiesberger (68), Martin Kaymer (69) and Alexander Noren (72) shared fourth at minus-15.

Els entered the day tied with Levy and Noren in the lead at 15-under, and they were met there by Bjorn with a birdie at the third.

The Dane followed that with two more gains at the third and fourth to grab the outright lead at 17-under.

Els joined Bjorn with back-to-back birdies at the fifth and sixth, while Noren fell three strokes off the pace with a bogey at the fifth.

Levy then made a push with consecutive birdies at the fifth and sixth to make it a three-way tie atop the leaderboard before Els grabbed the outright lead with a birdie at the eighth.

Levy answered with a birdie at the eighth to also move to 18-under, but tripped to a bogey at the 10th to fall behind.

Els bogeyed the 11th to briefly hand the lead to Levy. He would not hang on to it for long, however, as the Frenchman slipped to a bogey at the 10th to meet Els at minus-17.

Bjorn, meanwhile, also bogeyed the 11th to fall a shot off the pace after hitting his tee shot into the water, but he recovered with a birdie at the 12th to move back into a share of the lead.

It was Levy who then fell behind with a bogey at the 12th, but he also bounced right back with a 30-foot birdie putt at the 13th to rejoin Els and Bjorn.

Bjorn lost his share of the lead at the par-4 14th when an errant tee shot led to a double bogey, dropping him to 15-under.

Levy was next to fall behind with a bogey at the 15th to hand the outright lead to Els, who was in the midst of a run of six straight pars to remain at 17-under.

Bjorn and Levy swapped places on the leaderboard when Bjorn birdied the 16th to move to 16-under before Levy dropped a shot at the 17th to fall to minus-15.

At the par-5 18th, Bjorn rolled in his birdie effort to possibly force a playoff, but Els calmly reached the green in two and was able to 2-putt for birdie to clinch the victory.

"I fought all the way to the end, and he hit two very classy shots on the last. When you go up against Ernie, you've got to take it 18 holes to the end and I didn't quite do it today. I'm on a good run of form," Bjorn said.

NOTES: Els is the first South African to win the BMW International Open ... Els joined David Feherty (1989) and Sandy Lyle (1991) as the only wire-to-wire winners at this event ... Bjorn was trying to become the first three-time winner of the tournament. He also won in 2000 and 2002 ... Els will jump inside the top 15 of the world rankings with this victory.