Els One of Many Big Names at Westchester

By Associated PressJune 9, 2004, 4:00 pm
HARRISON, N.Y. -- Ernie Els never considered skipping the Buick Classic to prepare for the U.S. Open, even though it meant playing six straight weeks.
 
After all, the events during the stretch are favorites for Els, who is seeking his third victory in the tournament that begins Thursday at Westchester Country Club.
 
'I didn't want to miss out on any of them,' he said.
 
The two-time U.S. Open champion began the long run to Shinnecock Hills with a seventh-place tie in the Byron Nelson in Texas. He followed with a fifth-place tie in the Deutsche Bank in Germany, finished seventh in the Volvo PGA in England and won the Memorial last week in Ohio for his second tour victory of the year.
 
'It's a good challenge. You just do it,' Els said. 'I had three weeks off before this long stretch and I'm going to have a nice time off after this.'
 
While Buick endorser Tiger Woods is taking his usual break the week before a major championship, the tournament has attracted 25 of the top 30 players on the money list -- including two-time winner Vijay Singh, Masters champion Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and 2001 champion Sergio Garcia.
 
Mickelson spent last weekend on Long Island preparing for the U.S. Open, the first major championship since his breakthrough Masters victory.
 
'The preparation I had for Augusta paid off, so I'm trying to incorporate that into this upcoming major,' Mickelson said Wednesday. 'I flew in last week and spent three days over there learning the course.'
 
The hilly, tree-lined Westchester course -- a par-71 layout that is only 6,751 yards -- places a premium on shotmaking, making it an ideal tuneup event for the U.S. Open.

'It's a wonderful place for us to get ready for a U.S. Open,' Mickelson said. 'It's very similar to what a U.S. Open test is, with the thick rough, tight fairways, undulating greens, small greens, fallaways. The difference is there will be no wind.'
 
Els, the 1996 and 1997 Buick Classic winner, moved past Singh -- also a two-time Westchester champion -- for the No. 2 spot in the world rankings behind Woods with his victory Sunday at Muirfield Village.
 
'I think Vijay and Ernie are certainly playing the best golf of anybody on tour. Leave the rankings out of it,' Love said. 'You say, `Who do you like for this horse race this week?' Well, you'd be hard pressed to go past Vijay and Ernie.'
 
Love, the 1997 PGA winner at nearby Winged Foot, is seeking his first victory of the year after winning a career-high four times last season.
 
'I've been thinking about my swing on the golf course a little bit too much,' Love said. 'So the goal for this week and next week is just to get out and play golf. I feel like I'm hitting the ball good enough, putting well enough, doing everything well enough to score, but I'm not scoring.'
 
Jonathan Kaye won the rainy 2003 tournament for the first of his two PGA Tour titles, beating John Rollins with an eagle on the first playoff hole.
 
'I'll try and forget last year,' Kaye said. 'You can't live in the past. You've got to live in the present when you're playing golf.'
 
He's making his seventh appearance in the event.
 
'It's my favorite city to come to and it's my favorite course to play,' Kaye said. 'It's the center of the world. You've got great shows, good entertainment, great food, lots of good people watching, good shopping, great golf courses. What else do you need?'
 
Divots
Jay Haas is making his tournament-record 26th appearance. The 50-year-old Haas tied for eighth in the Memorial to move into 10th place in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings. ... The winner will receive $945,000 from the $5.25 million purse.
 
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    Watch: Tiger's Saturday birdies at Honda

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 9:20 pm

    Tiger Woods was in almost total control of his game for the majority of his third round Saturday at PGA National. And although he was once again bit by the Bear Trap, the 14-time major winner tapped in for birdie at the par-5 18th to post a round of 1-under 69 and fight his way back to even par for the week.

    Four back to start the day, Woods parred his first seven holes before pouring in his first birdie via this flagged iron from 139 at the par-4 eighth:

    Woods hit three more quality approaches at 9, 10 and 11 but couldn't get a putt to drop.

    The lid finally came off the hole at No. 12 when he holed a key 17-footer for par to keep his scorecard clean.

    One hole later, Woods added a second circle to that card, converting this 14-footer for a birdie-3 that moved him back into red figures at 1 under par for the week.

    Unfortunately, the Bear Trap would ensnare Tiger for the second day in a row. Woods, whose iron play had looked as crisp as it had in years, sailed approaches long and left at both the par-3 15th and par-3 17th, leading to bogeys which erased the two birdies he worked so hard to secure.

    But just like on Friday, Woods rallied back with a late birdie, this one at the home hole, to steal back a shot.

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    O. Fisher, Pepperell share lead at Qatar Masters

    By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 5:13 pm

    DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Fisher birdied his last four holes in the Qatar Masters third round to share the lead at Doha Golf Club on Saturday.

    The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 7-under 65 for an overall 16-under 200. Eddie Pepperell (66) picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to catch his compatriot and the pair enjoy a two-shot lead over American Sean Crocker (67) in third.

    David Horsey (65) was the biggest mover of the day with the Englishman improving 31 places for a share of fourth place at 12 under with, among others, Frenchman Gregory Havret and Italian Andrea Pavan.

    Fisher, winner of the 2011 Czech Open, made some stunning putts on his way in. After an eight-footer on the par-4 15th, he then drove the green on the short par-4 16th for an easy birdie, before making a 12-footer on the 17th and a 15-footer on the 18th.

    Like Pepperell, Fisher also had just one bogey to show on his card, also on the 12th hole.


    Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


    ''I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them,'' said Fisher, who has dropped to 369th in the world rankings.

    ''You can quite easily make a few bogeys without doing that much wrong here, so it's important to be patient and keep giving yourself chances.''

    Pepperell, ranked 154th in the world after a strong finish to his 2017 season, has been a picture of consistency in the tournament. He was once again rock-solid throughout the day, except one bad hole - the par-4 12th. His approach shot came up short and landed in the rocks, the third ricocheted back off the rocks, and he duffed his fourth shot to stay in the waste area.

    But just when a double bogey or worse looked imminent, Pepperell holed his fifth shot for what was a remarkable bogey. And he celebrated that escape with a 40-feet birdie putt on the 13th.

    ''I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me,'' said the 27-year-old Pepperell, who hit his third shot to within four feet on the par-5 18th to join Fisher on top.

    The long-hitting Crocker is playing on invites on the European Tour. He made a third eagle in three days - on the par-4 16th for the second successive round.

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 24, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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    Uihlein fires back at Jack in ongoing distance debate

    By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 4:32 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Wally Uihlein challenged Jack Nicklaus’ assault this week on the golf ball.

    Uihlein, an industry force as president and CEO of Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet for almost 20 years, retired at year’s start but remains an adviser.

    In an interview with ScoreGolf on Friday, Uihlein reacted to Nicklaus’ assertions that the ball is responsible for contributing to a lot of the troubles the game faces today, from slow play and sagging participation to the soaring cost to play.

    Uihlein also took the USGA and The R&A to task.

    The ball became a topic when Nicklaus met with reporters Tuesday at the Honda Classic and was asked about slow play. Nicklaus said the ball was “the biggest culprit” of that.

    “It appears from the press conference that Mr. Nicklaus was blaming slow play on technology and the golf ball in particular,” Uihlein said. “I don’t think anyone in the world believes that the golf ball has contributed to the game’s pace of play issues.”

    Nicklaus told reporters that USGA executive director Mike Davis pledged over dinner with him to address the distance the golf ball is flying and the problems Nicklaus believes the distance explosion is creating in the game.

    “Mike Davis has not told us that he is close, and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there,” Uihlein said.

    ScoreGolf pointed out that the Vancouver Protocol of 2011 was created after a closed-door meeting among the USGA, The R&A and equipment manufacturers, with the intent to make any proposed changes to equipment rules or testing procedures more transparent and to allow participation in the process.

    “There are no golf courses being closed due to the advent of evolving technology,” Uihlein said. “There is no talk from the PGA Tour and its players about technology making their commercial product less attractive. Quite the opposite, the PGA Tour revenues are at record levels. The PGA of America is not asking for a roll back of technology. The game’s everyday player is not advocating a roll back of technology.”

    ScoreGolf said Uihlein questioned why the USGA and The R&A choose courses that “supposedly” can no longer challenge the game’s best players as preferred venues for the U.S. Open, The Open and other high-profile events.

    “It seems to me at some point in time that the media should be asking about the conflict of interest between the ruling bodies while at the same time conducting major championships on venues that maybe both the athletes and the technology have outgrown,” he said. “Because it is the potential obsolescence of some of these championship venues which is really at the core of this discussion.”