Els hangs on to lead as play suspended

By Doug FergusonMarch 29, 2010, 12:13 am

Arnold Palmer Invitational

ORLANDO, Fla. – Ernie Els wasn’t making it easy for himself at Bay Hill on Sunday.

Els had a five-shot lead with six holes to play and was cruising toward his second straight victory until hitting into the water for a double bogey on the 13th and into the sand for a bogey on the next hole.

He still had a two-shot lead over Kevin Na when the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational was suspended by thunderstorms, which soaked the golf course for three hours.

The round is to resume Monday morning.

Els was at 11-under par and on the 15th hole. Na was at 9 under and on the front of the 15th green in two, 80 feet from the hole. The group another shot back included Ben Curtis and Chris Couch, who were playing with Els; and Retief Goosen, who was on the 18th tee.

Els went two years without winning, and was poised to only wait two weeks this time. He ended the longest drought of his career at Doral with a four-shot victory, and is trying to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2001 to win twice on the Florida swing.

Watch LIVE final-round action Monday beginning at noon ET on Golf Channel!

He started the final round with a one-shot lead and quickly seized control with a 12-foot birdie putt on the fifth, then reached the fringe in two on the par-5 sixth for a simple birdie.

The 40-year-old South African appeared to be bothered on the previous hole when he was about to hit a difficult shot into the wind and over the water, only to back off when he heard Couch hit out of turn. Els then went into a bunker and made bogey, and he drove into the right rough on No. 9 and had to play short of the green.

Couch hit his approach into 4 feet, and it looked as though they would make the turn in a tie for the lead. Els, however, pitched in from 53 yards short of the green for an unlikely birdie that put him at 12 under and allowed him to keep his two-shot lead.

From the fairway bunker at No. 10, Els hit to 15 feet and made another birdie, and he was on his way. Then came his mistakes – the water short of the 13th green, a bunker left of the 14th green, and it was a game again.

Couch, whose only victory came in New Orleans in 2006, needs a victory get into the Masters for the first time. The other top five players on the leaderboard already are set for Augusta National.

Only one player had managed to break 70 in the final round – D.A. Points, who had a 69 and was tied for 17th.

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods teed off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.