Els cruises to victory at Doral

By Doug FergusonMarch 15, 2010, 2:55 am

2010 WGC-CA Championship

DORAL, Fla. – For maybe the first time in his life, Charl Schwartzel found himself rooting against Ernie Els.

Els had a 25-foot par putt on the 14th green. Miss it, and he and Schwartzel – two South Africans, the final pair at the CA Championship – would be tied for the lead with four holes left. Make it, and Schwartzel would stay one shot behind the guy whose swing he tried to emulate for years.

“There’s always a turning point,” Schwartzel would say later.

Sure enough, that was it.

Els hit the par putt just hard enough to get it into the bottom of the cup, Schwartzel could only smile as he walked to the 15th tee, and he never had a good chance at catching his hero again. Els ended up running away to win the CA by four shots, finishing at 18-under 270 after a flawless final round of 66 at Doral.

“He’s still like a 15-year-old in my eyes,” the 40-year-old Els said of his 25-year-old playing partner Sunday. “He seems so young still. And he’s already got so much experience. But it just felt awkward. Him trying to win the golf tournament. I’m trying to win the golf tournament. I’m the old man. He’s the youngster. So it was a little different.”

Oh, but Els will take it.

He became only the fifth player with multiple victories in the World Golf Championships, joining Tiger Woods, Darren Clarke, Geoff Ogilvy and Phil Mickelson. It was his 61st victory worldwide, his 17th on the PGA Tour, and moved Els to No. 8 in the world ranking.

His fire is still roaring, too. Consider this nugget: A week ago, after finishing tied for 67th at the Honda Classic (a tournament for which Schwartzel, in somewhat baffling fashion, failed to qualify), Els didn’t go straight home from PGA National. He went to the nearby driving range at The Bear’s Club instead, and just before dark found something that worked.

Whatever it was, it worked wonders: Els was one of only three players with three rounds in the 60s at Doral, along with Alvaro Quiros and Paul Casey.

“I don’t think the motivation was lacking,” Els said. “I just think that I went about it the wrong way. You know, I was almost chasing my own tail a little bit. I was not looking after the smaller things. … I kind of let that all out of the window and I was going for the big prize. I was just not managing myself correctly.”

He managed Doral correctly, for sure. Els played his last 23 holes of the week without a bogey.

“All credit to Ernie,” Schwartzel said. “He played flawless golf.”

It was Els’ first win since the 2008 Honda Classic, and gave him a check for $1.4 million. Schwartzel earned $850,000, and moments after the final putt holed out, the winner let the kid – who stayed with Els at his South Florida home last week, and will stay with him again this coming week – know what the bigger consolation prize was.

“He’s got his tour card over here now,” Els said. “And now you guys can really see him in all his glory.”

Schwartzel caught a bad break on the 15th hole when his ball plugged in a front bunker, and he knocked that into a back bunker on his way to a crucial bogey. He missed short putts on the next two holes and closed with a 70.

They were chatty at times, which was expected. Els won a tournament playing alongside Schwartzel’s father more than 20 years ago, and Schwartzel said he learned to swing by watching a tape Els made. Walking up the fourth hole together, they talked and laughed as if it were a practice round, not the final pairing of a World Golf Championships event.

Els hit his tee shot there to 8 feet, the best at No. 4 all day. He made birdie.

“I think both of us were pretty focused,” Schwartzel said. “We were trying to win and you know, I felt like both of us really gave it our all. He just played a bit better.”

Matt Kuchar (68) finished seven shots behind Els, tied for third with Martin Kaymer (69) and Padraig Harrington (72), whose chances ended with three straight bogeys on the back nine.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson (68) was tied for 14th, 10 shots back.

“I’m doing the best I can. It just is not quite clicking on the course yet,” Mickelson said. “But it was a better round today. And it doesn’t feel as far off.”

Els left The Bear’s Club a week earlier saying the same.

Now he’s got a truckload of momentum as he heads to the Masters, and thinks he might be primed for a big year. With good reason, too – he has placed at least fourth on every course where this year’s majors will be played.

“I’m 40 years old. I’ve had a tough run,” Els said. “Whew! The hairs are standing up. It’s just great.”

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.