Els Hoping to Get Back on Track

By Associated PressFebruary 26, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Honda ClassicPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Ernie Els grades his level of personal confidence on a scale of 10. Entering the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this month, he says it was a nine. Now, its a seven.
 
The hit is an easy one to explain.
 
Blowing a four-shot lead to Tiger Woods in the final round'which happened in Dubai'isnt a good thing for anyones psyche, even a former world No. 1 like Els. And last week, in his 2008 debut in the U.S., he lasted only 13 holes in the Accenture Match Play, getting bounced in the first round.
 
Wasnt the best warm-up for my U.S. campaign, said Els, the worlds No. 4 player.
 
So now hes in the Honda Classic field for the first time since 1999, hoping the Florida swing gives him the shot of confidence he desperately wants. The tournament starts Thursday at PGA Nationals Champion Course, a tricky Jack Nicklaus track.
 
Dubai, I had a great opportunity to win and finish the tournament there, but I came up short, Els said. And obviously, last week wasnt great, but Im not reading too much into that one. Im really looking forward to having a strong four-week stretch in Florida, work on my game and see where we can go.
 
Els hasnt won on the PGA Tour since 2004, a drought that has now reached 47 tournaments.
 
At the end of the 2006 season, Els revealed what he called a three-year plan to contend for more major championships and ultimately challenge Woods for the worlds No. 1 ranking. He was third at last years PGA Championship and tied for fourth at the British Open, but hasnt exactly dented Woods grasp on the top spot.
 
And its starting to wear on Els a bit.
 
I need a win, Els said. I need to, at least, have two or three events really up there, really feeling the heat and knowing that you can pull off the shots under pressure. I need a couple of wins like that.
 
Dubai would have certainly classified as one of those.
 
His collapse there was epic. Naturally, it came against Woods.
 
After all, it was Woods who rallied from eight shots down to beat Els at the Johnnie Walker in 1998. And it was Woods who had a birdie-birdie finish to get into a playoff at Dubai two years ago, when he beat Els in a playoff.
 
When hes out there, hes in contention, Els said. You know hes not getting away and you know hes not going to make too mistakes. So it puts added pressure on yourself and sometimes drives you into things that you dont normally do.
 
Like, for example, trying to hit 5-wood over the water and go for the 18th green at Dubai in two. Laying up there, followed by a good chip, probably would have gotten Els in a playoff.
 
But since it was Woods, Els went for the spectacular. He got a splash.
 
I had a one in 10 chance of hitting the perfect shot, Els said.
 
Fortunately for Els, Woods isnt here this week. But this field is strong with Justin Rose (No. 7), Sergio Garcia (No. 13) and reigning U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera (No. 14) in the mix, along with defending champion Mark Wilson and the three players he beat in last years playoff'Boo Weekley, Camilo Villegas and Jose Coceres.
 
To me, its in the top four tournaments on the tour, said Robert Allenby, who finished last years Honda at 4 under, one shot out of the playoff. Obviously, you have your majors and then we have other tournaments, and this is one of those other tournaments that ranks right up there.
 
Els hopes it can be the tournament that can vault him right up there again, too.
 
His plan is for his game to peak at Augusta National in April for the Masters, where he was second in 2000 (to Vijay Singh) and 2004 (to Phil Mickelson).
 
He believes its doable, and a win in Florida would send that Els confidence meter skyrocketing again.
 
Its not like Im playing terrible golf, Els said. The results are not quite there. I dont want to say its tougher to get your confidence back, but its quite a journey. Im enjoying the challenge at the moment. Im enjoying practicing and really spending a lot of time on my swing and technical part of my game.
 
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    CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

    1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
    2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
    T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
    T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
    T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
    T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
    T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
    T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
    T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
    T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
    T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
    T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
    T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
    T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
    T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
    T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
    T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
    T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
    T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
    T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
    T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
    T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
    T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
    T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
    T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
    T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
    T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
    T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
    T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
    T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
    T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
    T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
    T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
    T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
    T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
    T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
    T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
    T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
    T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
    T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
    T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
    T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
    T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
    T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
    T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
    T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
    T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
    T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
    T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
    T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
    T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
    T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
    T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
    T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
    T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
    T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
    T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
    T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
    T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
    T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
    T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
    T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
    T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
    T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
    T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
    T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
    T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
    T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
    T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
    T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
    T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
    T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
    T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
    T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
    75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
    76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
    77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.