Notes Not Always Easy for Els

By Associated PressFebruary 11, 2004, 5:00 pm
Ernie Els appears to be a solid front-runner. His record is 18-11 when he has at least a share of the lead going into the final round on the PGA and European tours.
But the Big Easy tends to make it hard on himself.
His victory in the Heineken Classic was the latest example of Els letting a big lead get away. His eight-shot lead vanished on the front nine when he shot 42. Els birdied four of the next five holes and beat Adam Scott by one.
Some other examples:
At the Sony Open last month, he had a two-shot lead with four holes to play, three-putted from 30 feet to lose momentum and needed two playoff holes to defeat Harrison Frazar.
At Muirfield, he had a three-shot lead by five holes to play in the '02 British Open. Els bogeyed No. 13, took double bogey at No. 16 and had to rally to get into a playoff. He survived after five extra holes to win the claret jug.
At Doral, Els had an eight-shot lead going into the final round. Tiger Woods trimmed it to a single shot after 12 holes, but Els recovered to win by two.
At times, Els looks like one of the most dominant players in golf.
'I honestly believe that when Ernie is on top of his game like he is now, and Tiger Woods is on top of his, they are pretty hard to separate,' Scott said after Els opened with rounds of 60-66-68 last week at Royal Melbourne.
Other times, he looks incapable of a squashing the competition with a big lead.
'I don't know how I brought it back, but I did,' Els said at the Heineken Classic. 'With a big lead, you just can't let it slip at this level. And I let it slip.'
Still, the result is impressive. Not many other guys can go through that kind of turmoil down the stretch and still show the moxie to keep it together.
Curtis Strange won the NCAA title in 1974 and helped lead Wake Forest to two championships while playing on a scholarship created by Arnold Palmer.
Now, the two-time U.S. Open champion wants to give someone else a chance.
Strange created an endowed golf scholarship at Wake Forest worth $700,000 over three years.
'I've been excited about this for three months,' Strange said, who announced the scholarship during an alumni gathering over the weekend. 'The golf program helped me so much at school, and you want to do something for the people that helped you so much.'
It was only five years ago that some people argued Pebble Beach should be moved to the end of the California swing to improve its chances of decent weather.
Rain forced the tournament to be canceled in 1996. There was longest delay in PGA Tour history in 1998, when Phil Mickelson hit his opening tee shot in February and hoisted the trophy in August. The tournament was called after three days in 1999 because of rain. Tiger Woods had to go five days to win a year later.
Like everything else, weather at Pebble Beach runs in cycles.
The last four years, the weather has ranged from brilliant to gorgeous to perfect.
'The reputation of Crosby weather is taking a beating,' Davis Love III said.
Divots: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said he might try to play in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. 'I typically don't play in Pro-Ams because it takes too much of my time,' he said. 'But I will play one year, either next year or the following year. Because I want to play. I love these golf courses.' ... Alice Dye, whose golf career has included capturing national amateur championships, serving at the game's highest administrative levels and influencing modern golf architectural design to better serve players of all abilities, has been named recipient of the 2004 PGA First Lady of Golf Award.
Stat of the week: A victory at the Buick Invitational would be the seventh PGA Tour event that Tiger Woods has won at least three times.
Final word: 'I would have liked to sign autographs for everybody, but they want us to keep pace of play to nine hours.' -- Comedian George Lopez at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Watch: Tiger highlights from Round 2 at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 23, 2018, 8:12 pm

Tiger Woods started at even par in Round 2 of the Honda Classic. Friday began with a bogey at the par-4 second, but Woods got that stroke back with a birdie at the par-4 fourth:

Following four consecutive pars, Woods birdied the par-4 ninth to turn in 1-under 34.

At 1 under for the tournament, Woods was tied for 10th place, three off the lead, when he began the back nine at PGA National. And the crowd was loving it.

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Defending champ Fowler misses cut at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:14 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The roles might be reversed this weekend for Rickie Fowler.

Last year, when he won at PGA National, Fowler was greeted behind the 18th green by Justin Thomas, one of his Jupiter neighbors. Thomas had missed the cut in his hometown event but drove back to the tournament to congratulate Fowler on his fourth PGA Tour title.

It’s Fowler who will be on the sidelines this weekend, after missing the Honda Classic cut following rounds of 71-76.  

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

“I haven’t been swinging it great the last month and a half,” he said afterward. “Obviously playing in the wind, it will pick you apart even more.”

After a tie for fourth at Kapalua, Fowler has missed two of his last three cuts. In between, at the Phoenix Open, he coughed up the 54-hole lead and tied for 11th.

Fowler said he’s been struggling with commitment and trust on the course.

“It’s close,” he said. “Just a little bit off, and the wind is going to make it look like you’re a terrible weekend golfer.”

Asked if he’d return the favor for Thomas, if he were to go and win, Fowler smiled and said: “Of course.”  

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:00 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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Cut Line: Woods still eyeing Ryder Cup dual role

By Rex HoggardFebruary 23, 2018, 6:57 pm

In this week’s edition, Jack Nicklaus makes the argument, again, for an equipment rollback, Tiger Woods gets halfway to his Ryder Cup goal and Paul Lawrie laments slow play ... in Europe.

Made Cut

Captain’s corner. Last week Tiger Woods coyly figured he could do both, play and be a vice captain for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team. On Tuesday, he made it halfway to his goal.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk named Woods and Steve Stricker vice captains for this year’s matches, joining Davis Love III on the team golf cart.

Whether Woods will be able to pull off the double-header is now largely up to him and how his most recent comeback from injury progresses, but one way or another Furyk wanted Tiger in his team room.

“What Tiger really has brought to the table for our vice captains is a great knowledge of X's and O's,” Furyk said. “He's done a really good job of pairing players together in foursomes and fourball. When you look at our team room and you look at a lot of the youth that we have in that team room now with the younger players, a lot of them became golf professionals, fell in love with the game of golf because they wanted to emulate Tiger Woods.”

Woods is currently 104th on the U.S. points list, but the qualification process is designed for volatility, with this year’s majors worth twice as many points. With Tiger’s improved play it’s not out of the question that he gets both, a golf cart and a golf bag, for this year’s matches.

#MSDStrong. Every week on Tour players, officials and fans come together to support a charity of some sort, but this week’s Honda Classic has a more personal impact for Nicholas Thompson.

Thompson graduated from nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and last week’s horrific shooting there inspired the former Tour member to work with tournament organizers and find a way to help the victims.

Officials handed out 1,600 maroon ribbons to volunteers to honor the victims; and Thompson and his wife, who is also a Stoneman Douglas graduate, donated another 500 with the letters “MSD” on them for players, wives and caddies.

Thompson also planned to donate 3,100 rubber bracelets in exchange for donations to help the victims and their families.

“I’m not much of a crier, but it was a very, very sad moment,” Thompson told “To see on TV, the pictures of the school that I went through for four years and the area where it occurred was terrible.”

The Tour makes an impact on communities every week, but some tournaments are more emotional than others.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Golden moment. Jack Nicklaus has never been shy about expressing his thoughts on modern equipment and how far today’s professionals are hitting the golf ball, but this week the Golden Bear revealed just how involved he may be in what is increasingly looking like an equipment rollback of some sort.

During a recent dinner with USGA CEO Mike Davis, Nicklaus discussed the distance debate.

“Mike said, ‘We’re getting there. We’re going to get there. I need your help when we get there.'” Nicklaus said. “I said, ‘That’s fine. I’m happy to help you. I’ve only been yelling at you for 40 years.’ 1977 is the first time I went to the USGA.”

The USGA and R&A are scheduled to release their annual distance report before the end of the month, but after the average driving distance jumped nearly 3 yards last year on Tour – and nearly 7 yards on the Tour – many within the equipment industry are already bracing for what could be the most profound rollback in decades.

Stay tuned.

Geographically undesirable. Although this will likely be the final year the Tour’s Florida swing is undercut by the WGC-Mexico Championship, which will be played next week, the event’s impact on this year’s fields is clear.

The tee sheet for this week’s Honda Classic, which had become one of the circuit’s deepest stops thanks to an influx of Europeans gearing up for the Masters, includes just three players from the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and none from top three. By comparison, only the Sony Open and CareerBuilder Challenge had fewer top players in 2018.

On Monday at a mandatory meeting, players were given a rough outline of the 2018-19 schedule, which features some dramatic changes including the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players shifting back to March, and numerous sources say the Mexico stop will move to the back end of the West Coast swing and be played after the Genesis Open.

That should help fields in the Sunshine State regain some luster, but it does nothing to change the fact that this year’s Florida swing is, well, flat.

Missed Cut

West Coast woes. Of all the highlights from this year’s West Coast swing, a run that included overtime victories for Patton Kizzire (Sony Open), Jon Rahm (CareerBuilder Challenge), Jason Day (Farmers Insurance Open) and Gary Woodland (Waste Management Phoenix Open), it will be what regularly didn’t happen that Cut Line remembers.

J.B. Holmes endured the wrath of social media for taking an eternity - it was actually 4 minutes, 10 seconds - to hit his second shot on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines, but in fairness to Holmes he’s only a small part of a larger problem.

Without any weather delays, Rounds 1 and 2 were not completed on schedule last week in Los Angeles because of pace of play, and the Tour is even considering a reduction in field size at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to avoid similar schedule issues.

But all this seems to miss the point. Smaller fields aren’t the answer; rules that recognize and penalize slow play are the only solution.

Tweet of the week: @PaulLawriegolf (Paul Lawrie) “Getting pretty fed up playing with guys who cheat the system by playing as slow as they want until referee comes then hit it on the run to make sure they don't get penalized. As soon as ref [is] gone it’s back to taking forever again. We need a better system.”

It turns out slow play isn’t a uniquely Tour/West Coast issue, as evidenced by the Scot’s tweet on Thursday from the Qatar Masters.