The only thing more alarming than the way Ernie Els dominated one of the strongest fields of the year in the Johnnie Walker World Championship is the way he assesses his game.

"I think I can reach a higher level," said Els, the U.S. Open champion who, at age 25, won five tournaments worldwide and nearly $2.9 million this year.He admits next year will be more difficult, with more demands on his time and higher expectations.

But he capped a sensational year - he won the World Match Play and the Gene Sarazen World Open the past two months - with a display of power, a masterful touch around the green and the ability to avoid trouble.

The result was a landslide win Sunday against a field of 24 that included 19 of the top 30 ranked golfers in the world.

Els was in charge over the weekend after starting the tourney with a pair of 7-under-par 64s. He took a seven-stroke lead into the final round and never let it get lower than five.

"When he's playing that well, he's just very consistent," said Nick Faldo, who birdied five of the last seven holes and tied for second at 10-under with Mark McCumber.

"He knows every time he gets on the golf course it's at his mercy."

A number of players tried to catch Els, but he made no costly errors and his lead was too big to overcome.

Tom Lehman came the closest, getting within three strokes on Saturday before a pair of double bogeys ended his chances.

Faldo and McCumber each shot a 67 on Sunday, but they got their birdies late in the round.

Brad Faxon shot a 64 on Sunday, but that only got him to 9-under for the tournament, seven shots behind Els.

"The other guys made it easier for me out there," said Els, who picked up $550,000 with the win. "The biggest challenge came from myself."

But having escaped the third round - "always a dangerous round," he said - Els was up to the task. He got up and down to save par on the first two holes, birdied the par-5 fourth and took a bogey on the ninth.

On No. 10, he pushed a 2-iron just 6 feet from going out of bounds, then played a risky shot left of the green and saved par again.

Nick Price, the world's No. 1 player who was paired with Els, missed two birdie chances early and also bogeyed the ninth. Then he disappeared with a double bogey on the par-3 13th and finished well back after a 72.

"You're not going to overcome a lead like that. That's asking a lot of anybody," said England's David Gilford, who finished 8-under. "Sometimes, Ernie Els is the best player in the world."

Price battled a bad head cold throughout the week, but Els found much about his game to emulate. For one thing, Price is No. 1 on the Sony rankings, "and that is everyone's dream," Els said.

"I think I am a long way behind him," Els said. "His swing is sound, he's a good thinker on the course. I always enjoy playing with him. He's a gentleman through and through.

With the win, Els moved up to No. 6 on the Sony world rankings after starting the year ranked 20th. He won five tournaments and finished in the top five in 16 of 35 tournaments.

"Next year is going to be a tough year for me," Els said. "People are going to expect me to be in contention every week. Hopefully, that will happen but I'm going to take every week as it comes."

This week, at least, he stood alone.