Els posted a final round of two under par 68 in testing conditions to surge through the field and secure the Claret Jug for the second time in his career.
The 43-year-old South African began the final round six shots off the lead but never gave up hope of winning the fourth Major of his career, a fact so perfectly illustrated by his brilliant 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the Championship that would prove to be the winning stroke.
With the men at the top of the leaderboard at the beginning of the final round all carding over par scores, Els surged through the field to be crowned The Open Champion - a feat that made him the overwhelming choice of the Race to Dubai Golfer of the Month Panel comprising members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as commentators from radio and television.
"It's always nice to be named Golfer of the Month - it usually means you have done something pretty good and in my case this time it was for a very special achievement in my career," said Els.
"The whole thing happened quite fast after I finished that final round. I have to say that I was praying to get in a play-off, but then it finished the way it did.
"Obviously I still feel for Adam Scott, but this one came my way for once. You lose a lot more than you win as a professional and I am sure Scotty's time will come in a Major."