Notes Ground Ruling Helps Els

By Associated PressApril 10, 2004, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- When Ernie Els didn't get the ruling he wanted, he went straight to the top - and he got his way.
Els hit his tee shot on the 11th hole at the Masters on Saturday into an area where workers stacked some limbs that had been torn off trees during a storm.
Facing an unplayable lie, Els asked the rules official on the hole if he could move the ball by invoking the ground-under-repair rule.
That official rejected his request, but called over chief official Will Nicholson, who allowed Els a free drop. Els parlayed that good break into a bogey, en route to a round of 1-under-par 71 that left him at 3 under, three strokes out of the lead.
'I just felt they could have moved the stuff offsite, off the golf course,' Els said. 'In South Africa, we call that greenskeepers rubble. I felt pretty strongly about that.'
Els' question prompted about a 15-minute delay. Phil Mickelson, who was playing behind him, whiled the time away on the tee box, sitting on a towel and stretching to keep his back loose.
'Ten, 11, 12 are not really the holes you want to be waiting on, but it was all right,' said Mickelson, the co-leader with Chris DiMarco after three rounds.
Bernhard's Bonus
There might not be a setup in the world that rewards course knowledge more than Augusta National. Nobody knows it better this week than Bernhard Langer.
Langer, the champion here in 1985 and '93, shot 69 in the third round to move into a tie for fourth, only three strokes behind leaders Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco.
Langer hasn't finished in the top 10 here since his 1993 victory. That, plus the fact he's 46 - the same age that Jack Nicklaus became the oldest Masters winner in 1986 - might make Langer's the most surprising name near the top of the leaderboard.
'It's probably the knowledge of having played somewhere near 150, 200 rounds on this golf course,' Langer said, when asked to explain his success. 'That can be a good thing. I thought it was a boost today.'
Amateur Hour
While Phil Mickelson, Chris DiMarco and the rest go for the green jacket, Brandt Snedeker and Casey Wittenberg will be playing for a prize of their own.
Snedeker leads Wittenberg by four strokes in the race for low amateur. The winner gets a sterling silver cup.
Snedeker, the U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, and Wittenberg, the runner-up at the U.S. Amateur, came into the day tied at 4 over par. With the help of an eagle on No. 10 - an iron shot he holed out from the fairway - Wittenberg shot 71 in the third round, while Snedeker shot 75.
'It was unbelievable that it was on that hole, and in this tournament,' Wittenberg said.
Both players know they have a big day coming up. Snedeker also announced Sunday this will be his last tournament as an amateur. He said he'll turn pro Monday, and already has invitations to play in the Byron Nelson Classic and the Memorial, both in May.
Nice Hat
It was easy to spot the Alex Cejka fans.
Eleven of Cejka's family and close friends sported Day-Glo yellow hats Saturday with 'Team Cejka' on the front in green script lettering and 'Check out Cejka' on the back.
'Yesterday at dinner I realized it would be funny, a nice surprise. It would be easy for Alex to see us in the crowd,' said Rudy Masopust, a close friend of Cejka's and the one who came up with the idea.
That hats were whipped up at the last minute by a local company.
Unfortunately for Cejka, the hats didn't help his game. He shot 78 to finish 2 over and fall from a tie for second to eight strokes behind.
With a storm expected to roll in late Sunday, Masters officials moved all tee times up by about an hour. Jeff Sluman and Chris Riley will begin play at 10:30 a.m., and the leaders tee off at 2 p.m. ... Vijay Singh opened with a birdie and an eagle, but didn't quite make the charge he needed, shooting 69 to finish 1 over. ... At one point, on the seventh hole, Sergio Garcia and Bernhard Langer were an entire hole behind the group in front of them. They made up ground quickly and were back in position by the turn.
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - The Masters Tournament
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  • Arnold Palmers 50th Masters
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    Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

    According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

    The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

    The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

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    Notah: Driver is Tiger's No. 1 pre-Masters concern

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 5:49 pm

    Tiger Woods mounted a Sunday charge at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, sending shockwaves through Bay Hill when it looked as though he might finally claim PGA Tour victory No. 80.

    But the charge came to an end at the par-5 16th, where Woods had missed wide-right three days in a row before going OB-left on Sunday en route to bogey.

    Woods’ API performance featured just a handful of drivers each day, as firm and fast conditions allowed him to make frequent use of a 2-iron off the tee.

    That strategy led to a second top-5 finish in as many weeks, but if Woods wants to win again, if he wants claim another major, he is going to sort out his issues with the big stick.

    A guest Monday morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Golf Channel’s Notah Begay believes the driver will be a focus for Woods in his pre-Masters preparation.

    “Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver. … Any time he has to turn a shot right to left with trouble on the left, he struggles a little bit,” Begay said.

    “Off the sixth tee, off the ninth tee, there was some errant shots. And then we saw the really horrible tee shot yesterday at 16. He talked about in the post-round comments. He just didn’t commit to a shot, and the worst thing that a professional athlete can do to themselves to compromise performance is not commit.

    “And so he made a terrible swing, and that’s the miss that is really difficult for him to recover from, because the majority of his misses are out to the right. So, when you eliminate one half of the golf course, you can really make your way around … a lot easier. When you have a two-way miss going, which sometimes creeps into his driver, it really makes it difficult to take out some of the trouble that you’re looking at when you’re standing on the tee box.

    “So he has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”

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    McIlroy trails only Woods in Masters betting odds

    By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 5:47 pm

    After rallying for victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy is once again among the betting favorites for the upcoming Masters.

    McIlroy was available at 16/1 at the Westage Las Vegas SuperBook last week, listed behind six other players. But after his three-shot win at Bay Hill, his odds were trimmed to 10/1 leaving him behind only betting favorite Tiger Woods.

    Next month will mark McIlroy's fourth opportunity to close out the final leg of the career Grand Slam by slipping into a green jacket. Here's a look at the current betting odds, with the first round only 17 days away:

    8/1: Tiger Woods

    10/1: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas

    14/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose

    16/1: Jason Day, Jon Rahm

    18/1: Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson

    25/1: Paul Casey, Bubba Watson

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama

    40/1: Henrik Stenson, Marc Leishman

    50/1: Alex Noren

    60/1: Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters

    80/1: Branden Grace, Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay

    100/1: Zach Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner

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    NBC Sports' Final Round Coverage of Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard Scores Highest-Rated Overnight at Event in Six Years

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsMarch 19, 2018, 5:42 pm

    Arnold Palmer Invitational and Valspar Championship Post Two Highest-Rated Final Round PGA TOUR Telecasts (Non-Majors) on Any Broadcast Network since the 2015 Wyndham Championship

    ORLANDO, Fla., March 19, 2018 – Record viewership of the PGA TOUR continued this weekend for NBC Sports Group at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. Sunday’s final round coverage on NBC (2-6:45 p.m. ET) delivered a 3.6 overnight rating, +136% vs. 2017 and the highest-rated final round at this event in six years. Combined with last week’s final round viewership at the Valspar Championship (5.1 overnight rating) these rank as the two highest-rated final round PGA TOUR telecasts (non-majors) on any broadcast network since the 2015 Wyndham Championship. Golf Channel’s Sunday final-round lead-in coverage earned a .97 overnight rating, the highest at this event in five years. Across NBC and Golf Channel’s coverage, more than 12 million minutes were streamed, +683% vs. 2017.


    • Sunday’s final round coverage on NBC peaked to a 4.89 from 5:15-5:30 p.m. ET.
    • Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage peaked to a 1.24 from 1:30-2 p.m. ET.


    Saturday’s third round coverage earned a 2.29 overnight rating on NBC (2:30-6 p.m. ET), +92% vs. 2017 and the highest-rated at this event in five years. Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage (Noon-2:30 p.m. ET) earned a .95 overnight rating, +126% vs. 2017. Nearly 5.3 million minutes were streamed, +511% vs. 2017.


    Friday’s second-round coverage on Golf Channel generated a .81 overnight rating, +153% vs. 2017 and the second highest-rated early round at this event on Golf Channel (2007-2018), just slightly behind the 2012 second round (.84). More the 4.2 million minutes were streamed on Golf Channel Digital, +682% vs. 2017.


    Final numbers from Golf Channel’s opening round coverage on Thursday: .42 U.S. HH rating and 593,000 viewers, +56% vs. 2017 and the most-watched opening round at this event since 2011. More than 1.4 million minutes were streamed, +163% vs. 2017.


    Four of the top-20 players in the world, Jon Rahm (No. 3), Tommy Fleetwood (No. 11), Tyrrell Hatton (No. 16) and Pat Perez (No. 19) are scheduled to join the live World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play Bracket Special tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. The 90-minute live primetime special will originate from Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, Texas, and feature golf’s own version of a March bracket-style tournament selection format under the guidance of PGA TOUR competition officials.


    NBC Sports Group will feature nearly 35 live hours of tournament coverage from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Golf Channel will carry live coverage of round robin matches Wednesday-Friday, March 21-23. On Saturday, March 24, Golf Channel will provide coverage of the Round of 16, followed by the Quarterfinals matches airing on NBC. On Sunday, March 25, Golf Channel will showcase the Semifinals matches, followed by the Championship and Consolation matches airing on NBC.


    -NBC Sports Group-