Els Searching for Major Turnaround

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 11, 2005, 4:00 pm
Ernie Els sat before the media in January and was posed the same question most every big name player receives at the season-opening Mercedes Championships:
 
Whats the minimum you could do this year to make it a successful year in your own mind?
 
Ernie Els
Ernie Els hopes to put behind him his recent major disappointments at St. Andrews.
Part of Els response: I would love to at least win a major this year. It sounds very cocky but that's always my mindset.
 
Els is 0-for-2 in that department thus far in 2005. Technically, that puts him in a similar position to that of a year ago as he prepares for the Open Championship. But unlike last year, when he had a chance to win each of the first two majors ' and all four, for that matter, he has yet to contend in any this year.
 
Els tied for 47th at Augusta and then tied for 15th at Pinehurst; finishing 22 and nine strokes, respectively, behind the winners. He has yet to break par in any of his eight major rounds in 05.
 
Hes winless in the majors this season and hes winless on the PGA Tour. Needless to say, Els is not overly pleased with his results, despite the fact that he has three wins on the European Tour.
 
Theres still time, he said about turning his season into what he deems a successful campaign.
 
Time, however, is slipping. And there is more sand in the bottom of the hourglass than in the top.
 
For a man of Els professional stature, success is measured in victories ' particularly in the majors. Els has three major triumphs, but none since the 2002 Open Championship at Muirfield.
 
Last year was particularly cruel, as he finished runner-up to Mickelson by a stroke at the Masters; shot 80 from the final group, in the final round of the U.S. Open to tie for ninth; lost to Todd Hamilton in a playoff at the Open Championship; and bogeyed the 72nd hole to miss out on a playoff at the PGA Championship.
 
As much as those still hurt and as frustrated as he might be, Els is well aware that one good week, four great rounds can alter his disposition.
 
And with his track record in the Open, combined with his affection for the Old Course at St. Andrews, Els is among the top contenders to again claim the claret jug.
 
St. Andrews is almost like a home course for me. I've played it every year since 1992. So I know it as good as anybody, said Els.
 
But he is not the favorite.
 
Five for the Title:
 
Tiger Woods
Each of the last two Open Championships has produced a shocking winner. And eight of the last 10 Open winners have been American. So you may want to pick someone like Ted Purdy as your favorite. But well stick with Tiger. While Americans have had recent success at St. Andrews, having won four of the last six Opens staged there, the dark horse has rarely finished first. Nine of the last 11 winners at St. Andrews already had a major victory to their credit. The venerable venue has hosted 26 Opens and has produced champions like Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Peter Thomson, Bobby Locke, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo. And, of course, that Woods fellow.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is looking to complete the career Grand Slam for the second time.
Tiger won the most recent Old Course Open in 2000, establishing a major record winning score of 19 under. He played in the J.P. McManus Pro-Am in Ireland last Monday and Tuesday, and has been spending a little time fishing with pals on that side of the Atlantic and a lot of time gearing up his game. Having won the Masters and finished runner-up at the U.S. Open, he cant win the single season Grand Slam. But a win this week and he would join Nicklaus as the only men to win every major at least twice.
 
Ernie Els
Not since Greg Norman has there been a player more star-crossed in the majors than Els. He desperately wants to win the career Grand Slam, but he certainly wouldnt mind adding a second British Open title to go along with his two U.S. Open trophies. Els is a little weary at the moment, due to his extensive travels, which include an unexpected return to South Africa two weeks ago for the death of his grandfather. But, despite an 11th-place showing at the Barclays Scottish Open, he enters this championship optimistic. In addition to his infatuation for St. Andrews, he is also quite fond of his new Titleist driver, which he put in play last week.
 
Padraig Harrington
*Editor's note: Harrington pulled out on Tuesday due to the death of his father.
Harrington may well be playing the best golf of anyone leading into the seasons third major. Three weeks ago, he drained a 65-foot eagle putt to win the Barclays Classic, his second PGA Tour title of the year. He then won, by six strokes, last weeks J.P. McManus Pro-Am, a two-day event that featured the likes of Woods, Els, U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell, Davis Love III, and just about every notable European player. He has a pair of top-5 finishes in the Open Championship, and tied for 20th in 2000.
 
Vijay Singh
Singh can claim the third leg of the career Grand Slam with a win this week. He has three PGA Tour victories this season, but none in his last six starts. That might not seem like a long stretch, but Singh has come to spoil us over the last three years. Singh has had moderate success in this event. He has missed only two cuts in 16 career starts, but also has only two top-10s. One of those top-10s, however, came here in 1995. He tied for second in 2003, behind champion Ben Curtis.
 
Phil Mickelson
There was a time ' not too long ago ' that Mickelson would never have been considered among the favorites to win this particular major. But times have changed. And so, too, has Mickelsons major preparation. After failing to crack the top-10 in his first 11 Open appearances, he finished solo third a year ago at Royal Troon. His previous best finish was a tie for 11th, which happened to come at St. Andrews in 2000. He continued his major routine, playing the Old Course last Monday and Tuesday prior to competing in the Scottish Open.
 
Playing Out the Front Nine
 
Four more to keep an eye on
 
*Michael Campbell, who will be playing his first official event since winning the U.S. Open. Campbell tied Els and Woods for sixth place at the J.P. McManus Pro-Am. He first made a name for himself at this event and at this venue in 95, when he held the 54-hole lead, but then shot 76 on Sunday to miss out on the John Daly-Costantino Rocca playoff by a stroke.
 
*Retief Goosen, who is looking to bounce back from a woeful closing performance at Pinehurst. In search of his second straight U.S. Open title, Goosen shot 81 in the final round to blow a three-shot lead and finish tied for 11th. He has three consecutive top-10 finishes in this event.
 
*Davis Love III, who has said the Open Championship is the one major that he has always wanted to win. Love hasnt won an event since 2003, but he seems to be rounding into form. He played better than anyone at Pinehurst over the last three rounds. He just needs to find a way to get off to a good start at St. Andrews. He has a pair of top-5s in his last two Open starts.
 
*Jack Nicklaus, who will be making his final appearance in this championship. Nicklaus has competed in 37 Opens. He won three times, including twice at St. Andrews (1970, 78). Most amazingly, he never finished worse than tied for sixth from 1966-80.
 
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    Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

    By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

    A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

    The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

    The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

    Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

    Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

    "This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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    LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

    By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

    The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

    While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

    The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

    The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

    An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

    The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

    The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

    “Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

    While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

    The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

    The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

    For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

    Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

    Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

    Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

    Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

    March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

    March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

    March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

    March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

    April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

    April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

    April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

    May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

    June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

    June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

    June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

    June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

    July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

    July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

    July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

    Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

    Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

    Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

    Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

    Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

    Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

    Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

    Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

    Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

    Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

    Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

    Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

    Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

    And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

    Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

    Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

    Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

    Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

    In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

    THE MAJORS

    Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

    Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

    Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

    Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

    **********

    U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

    **********

    The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

    Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

    Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

    Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

    Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

    Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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    PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

    Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


    TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

    AT&T Pebble Beach

    Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

    Travelers Championship

    Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

    Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


    FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


    PHOTO GALLERIES

    Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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    Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm