Els has 1 weekend to erase 10 years of grief

By Associated PressJune 19, 2010, 5:44 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The memories aren’t exactly pleasant, and Ernie Els has had to live with them for the better part of a decade now. Maybe that’s why he seems so intent on making some new ones this week at Pebble Beach.

It was here 10 years ago that Tiger Woods kicked sand in his face and made him the poster child for a generation of cowed players. It was here in 2000 where Els took his whipping, then had to go before the media to tell everyone just how great Woods was.

“Wasn’t easy for me,” Els said the other day. “Wasn’t one of my nicest moments.”

Paired together in the final round then, Els found himself in a place he couldn’t escape. Put together in the first two rounds of his year’s Open by some clever USGA officials, he now finds himself in a place he doesn’t want to leave.

Two rounds in this Open won’t erase what happened then. There are too many scars, too many reminders still.

But a 3-under 68 on Friday couldn’t help but ease some of the sting, especially with Woods shooting a so-so 72. On top of that Els is in contention going into the weekend, tied for second just two shots off the Open lead.

“Some years I’ve felt really calm because I’m playing well,” Els said. “And for some reason this year I’m feeling good again.”

Making a few putts will usually make any golfer feel that way, and Els made more than his share in a second round played in benign conditions under gray skies. Making them in front of Woods had to make him feel even better, considering he finished 15 shots behind him the last time the Open was played at Pebble.

Els never waved a white towel in that final round, though he may have been tempted. He certainly sounded like he had given up on the idea of ever beating Woods.

“It seems like we’re not playing in the same ballpark right now,” he said after that round. “When he’s on, you don’t have much of a chance.”

The comments would come to haunt Els, even though he and Miguel Angel Jimenez finished closer to Woods than anyone else in the field in 2000. Like it or not, he became a symbol of the players who mostly gave up over the years when Woods walked to the first tee with his A game.

It didn’t help that over the years Els finished second to Woods more times than any other player, getting beaten by him in tournaments from Dubai to Dublin, Ohio. Didn’t seem to matter that he had won two Open titles of his own while still young, because he wasn’t going to win one with Woods in the field.

Els is 40 now, and though he has a British Open title to show for his last 10 years, he would be hard put to refute the argument that he has spent most of the decade underachieving. At a time when players begin taking stock of their careers and begin figuring out what their legacy might be, he has to deal with the reality his won’t be as great as it once seemed likely to be.

“The expectations are there, obviously,” Els said after Friday’s round. “And I probably fell victim to that a little bit because I had many – numerous – chances of winning majors, which I didn’t. I’ve won three and I look back at it now, I’m pleased to have done that.”

He would be even more pleased to win a fourth here, and not just because he would have his name on the Open trophy for the first time since 1997. For Els it would be the validation of a career that seemed to have no ceiling when he won his first U.S. Open three years before that.

“I’m 40 years old now, when I look back now it’s amazing when I think I was 24 when I won this event at Oakmont,” he said. “I must have been out of my head to think I could have won at 24.”

That, ironically, was the age Woods was when he beat Els in 2000 to begin a decade of dominance that golf may never see again. In the final round of that tournament Woods never said a word to Els as he finished off the biggest win ever in a major championship with a final round as impeccable as it was impersonal.

On Friday they chatted between shots, two veterans searching for wins for very different reasons. Nothing was at stake except position going into the weekend, but Els seemed awfully pleased for someone just midway through a major championship.

“Not too many people give you too many chances winning a major after 40,” he said. “But I feel good I feel my game’s there. I like to think I’ve got quite a few more left.”

Maybe. But this might be Els’ only true chance for redemption, his only real way to even the score.

One weekend of golf to finally erase 10 years of bad memories.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.