Els Hopes to Be Turning the Corner

By Associated PressMarch 5, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 PODS ChampionshipTAMPA BAY, Fla. -- A bead of sweat dripped off Ernie Els brow when he stopped for a five-minute chat Wednesday before his pro-am round at the PODS Championship.
 
The hard part is over for the Big Easy. The hard work is not.
 
Els ended an 0-for-47 stretch on the PGA TOUR when he won the Honda Classic, an astounding drought given his considerable talent. He is among four active players with at least three major championships, but none of the others has gone more than a year without winning on the worlds toughest golf circuit.
 
It took a few days for his victory to sink it, and it was really driven home on the range at Innisbrook.
 
The guys are congratulating you, he said. Theyre not saying hard luck or bad luck or whatever that is.
 
Els would not have imagined winning this way.
 
He failed to make a birdie over the final 11 holes at PGA National and played them in 1 over. That proved to be enough, however, when the hard luck fell to Mark Calcavecchia, whose bunker shot inexplicably rolled through the green and into a hazard; and bad luck sided with Luke Donald, whose chip to force a playoff stopped inches short.
 
Thats what had been happening to Els lately, whether it was Boo Weekley chipping in twice to beat him at Hilton Head last year, or Els hitting a tee shot out of bounds on the 18th hole at Kapalua, a fairway wide enough to land a jumbo jet.
 
The losses kept piling up.
 
He couldnt keep up with Tiger Woods at Royal Liverpool in 2006 and started too far behind him at Southern Hills a year later. The latest blow had come last month at Dubai, when Els missed two short putts that forced him to go for broke on the par-5 18th at Dubai, only to hit a fairway metal into the water on the last hole.
 
When youre around long enough like me, you know youre going to have losses, Els said. Losses are tough. You play to win every week. When you get close, you expect to win. I had many, many times I couldnt close the deal. So its really nice to get this one, and hopefully, this is a fresh start for the next couple of years.
 
If nothing else, its a good start with the Masters looming a month away.
 
Els has changed his worldwide travel schedule slightly to spend more chunks of time in the United States, and he signed up for the entire Florida swing. The hope was to build a foundation, make some progress before getting to Augusta National.
 
The victory should pay loads of dividends.
 
Els has enough ability to contend at majors even when his confidence is shaky. He was paired in the final group with Woods in the third round of the 2006 British Open, where he finished third. He was one shot out of the lead at Carnoustie a year later until dropping shots down the stretch and tying for fourth. And after a brief run at the 2007 PGA Championship, he wound up third.
 
Ending that nasty 3 1/2 -year drought on the PGA TOUR should only help.
 
It does matter, Els said. I really put my sights onto playing a solid Florida stretch because I needed to get some confidence going before Augusta, he said. Obviously, it was a great start.
 
But he is far from satisfied. Els said his driving has been suspect under pressure over the last couple of years, and he has not been able to make the putts that mattered most down the stretch. Even though he won, hes not convinced those problems are behind him.
 
And that explains why this week is no time to celebrate.
 
Even last week, the final nine (holes) of the tournament, I had a lot of chances, but I still didnt quite hole out, Els said. Im still working on that. If Tiger or Phil (Mickelson) or other players were there, maybe they would have beaten me.
 
Woods and Mickelson are not at Innisbrook; that reunion takes place next week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
 
Els, who has returned to Big Three status in the world ranking at the moment, still faces a stern test at Innisbrook, regarded by most players as one of the strongest tour courses on Florida without having to change its par to a 70.
 
The Copperhead course does not have a Florida look to it. There are changes in elevation, rare in a state where an ant pile can pass as a mountain. Most fairways are lined with trees, giving it a traditional look, and forcing players to think off the tee.
 
The only issue at the moment is sponsorship. PODS signed on as the title sponsor last year, but the company is for sale, and the tour is looking for another sponsor to keep Tampa Bays spot on the PGA TOUR rotation.
 
Els is part of a field that includes defending champion Calcavecchia, Steve Stricker, Justin Rose of England, two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and Davis Love III.
 
If it took a few days for victory to sink it for Els, it took at least that long for Calcavecchias sting to go away from Honda. He still doesnt know how a bunker shot that looked good on the green wound up in the rocks.
 
I was a little more bummed out than I thought I would be, Calcavecchia said. Some things happened that didnt have to happen. And I screwed up a few plays where I didnt have to, either. It certainly could have been a win for me.
 
It turned out to be a win for Els, and possibly a big one.
 
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    Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

    Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

    The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


    2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia


    And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

    Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

    Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

    Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


    Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

    Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

    Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


    Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

    Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

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    Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

    Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


    Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

    Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


    Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

    Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.