Notes Els Aims For No 1 at PGA

By Associated PressAugust 9, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 PGA ChampionshipHAVEN, Wis. -- Ernie Els lost a little ground in the world ranking with his tie for 29th in the International, but he is closer than ever to replacing Tiger Woods as No. 1 in the world.
 
In the previous two majors, Els needed at least a victory to end Woods five-year reign at the top. Going into the PGA Championship, the Big Easy can overtake him by finishing second.
 
Heres the scenario for Els to move to No. 1:
 
He wins, and Woods finishes in a three-way tie for second.
He finishes second alone, and Woods finishes 16th alone.
He finishes in a two-way tie for second, Woods misses the cut and Vijay Singh does not win.
 
Singh, who challenged Woods earlier in the year before slipping to No. 3, has a chance to move to No. 1 if the Fijian wins the PGA, Woods misses the cut and Els is not the sole runner-up.
 
Woods tied Greg Normans record Monday when he was No. 1 for the 331st week. He can break the record by holding down the No. 1 spot this week.
 
This is the five-year anniversary of the last time someone other than Woods was atop the world ranking. David Duval was No. 1 going into the 1999 PGA Championship, where
 
Woods won to end an 0-for-10 drought in the majors.
 
GENEROUS DALY
Bruce Smith of Lewisville, Texas, is one of 25 club professionals who qualified for the PGA Championship, and a chance encounter with John Daly last week paid off in more ways than one.
 
Smiths 2-year-old daughter, Kennedy, was born with lymphatic malformation of a portion of her face. He held a celebrity pro-am at his home club, The Trails of Frisco Golf Club near Dallas.
 
During a practice round at Whistling Straits last week, Daly was playing behind Smith and caught up with him. Smith asked Daly if he wanted to play through, but the 91 PGA champion said he wanted a partner. During the final three holes, Smith told him about the pro-am tournament to raise money for his daughter.
 
First, Daly offered to give him souvenirs from his motor home for the auction. Then, Daly reached into his pocket.
 
I thought he was giving me a business card, Smith said. But he handed me a roll of bills. John said, Here, put that in your foundation. I peeled the bills apart, and there was $1,000. I was pretty choked up about it.
 
I will never forget John and what he has done.
 
DRIVER WANTED
Chad Campbell had two caddies with him during a practice round Monday'Jud Burkett, his regular looper, and a Ping representative carrying six drivers.
 
Oh, Campbell also had three other drivers in his bag.
 
It is an ongoing search for Campbell to find a driver he likes, ever since the face of his regular driver'one he had used for almost 15 months'cracked 10 minutes before his tee time at the Honda Classic.
 
Ive been kind of looking for one ever since, Campbell said. Ive been trying out a little bit of everything, seeing whats all out there. The one Im hitting right now (Ping G2) is pretty good, so most likely Ill end up sticking with that one.
 
Thats no guarantee. When Campbell won at Bay Hill, he used two drivers over four rounds.
 
WITHDRAWS
Former PGA champions Steve Elkington and Larry Nelson withdrew on Monday, bringing the number to eight players who already have withdrawn.
 
Nelson, a two-time winner who now plays the Champions Tour, cited a wrist injury. Elkington reinjured a groin muscle. On Sunday, the PGA lost two marquee players when U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen bailed out with injuries from a jet ski accident, while three-time major winner Nick Price decided to extend his family vacation.
 
Others to withdraw where Jeff Maggert (wife about to have twins), Tom Watson (neck), Thomas Bjorn (neck) and Toshi Izawa (sinus infection).
 
As of Monday, the field still had 96 of the top 100 players in the world ranking.
 
BUNKERS
There are some 1,400 bunkers at Whistling Straits, a number that is hard to verify because some of the traps are no bigger than a coffin.
 
In fact, there is so much sand that the gallery is forced to walk through some bunkers. If players hit into footprints, they probably deserve the lie they get because the shot will have been well off line.
 
The PGA of America said all bunkers will be played as hazards, meaning players will not be allowed to ground their clubs or remove loose impediments.
 
And if a ball winds up in a fans footprint?
 
Such irregularities of surface are a part of the game and no free relief will be available from these conditions, the PGA said.
 
SLOW START TO THE WEEK
The gates to Whistling Straits were not even open to the public when the PGA Championship had its first weather delay of the week.
 
The course was closed at 7:25 a.m. Monday because of lightning in the area, and a dozen players stood next to the practice range for some 30 minutes waiting for it to open. Practice rounds did not begin until about two hours later.
 
It didnt matter to Lee Westwood, who got lost on his way to the course.
 
I saw most of Wisconsin this morning, Westwood said. Im staying 15 minutes away, but it turned into 50 minutes. Im sure theres a right way for me to come, but I only managed to find the last bit of it.
 
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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.