Els Takes a Ride On a Rollercoaster

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 12, 2003, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Ernie Els has built a career making the impossible seem possible.
 
Ernie ElsThat can be good and bad.
 
The good? At No. 7 in the third round of the Masters on Saturday, he flew a 9-iron onto the green and rolling, rolling, rolling -- right into the hole for eagle.
 
The bad? He hit a beautiful approach on No. 14 that landed inches away from the cup, then inexplicably spun backward -- uphill all the way off the heavily-contoured green.
 
'I got robbed there,' Els said. 'To me, it was almost impossible that could happen.'
 
The bad luck on 14 resulted in the first of two straight bogeys, and when his even-par round was over, Els was thinking more about the disaster there than the eagle on 7.
 
The Big Easy finished at 1 over, six strokes behind Jeff Maggert. Considered Tiger Woods' most legitimate challenge at the Masters, Els' chances for a fourth major are in considerable trouble.
 
'I guess when I calm down and really think about today, I'd like to think there's still a chance,' Els said. 'But it's an uphill climb.'
 
Langer Goes Home
 
While Tiger Woods was still in contention for a third straight Masters title, another streak came to an end at Augusta National.
 
Bernhard Langer failed to make the cut for the first time since his Masters debut in 1982. The German returned in 1984 and cleared the 36-hole barrier 19 times in a row, the longest active streak in the tournament.
 
Langer missed the cut by a whopping six strokes after shooting rounds of 79 and 76, leaving him 11-over par. He fell short of the Masters record, 23 consecutive cuts made by Gary Player from 1959-82.
 
Also going home: John Huston, who had made the cut at Augusta 12 times in a row dating to 1990.
 
Fred Couples now has the longest active streak, stretching his run to 19 in a row when he made the cut with one stroke to spare.
 
Unusual Nine
 
It wasn't just any old quadruple bogey for Darren Clarke.
 
Most players who implode on the par-5 13th hole do it by hitting ball after ball into Rae's Creek. Clarke only hit one in there.
 
Darren ClarkeThe Northern Irishman yanked his tee shot into the woods, chipped out for his second, and hit his third into the water. After a drop, he hit his fifth shot through the green, then took four strokes to get down for a round-ruining 9.
 
It was the low point of his round of 78, a score that took him from the lead after Friday's play was called by darkness, to a tie for 27th.
 
'There are momentum swings out there for everybody,' Clarke said. 'Augusta doesn't give you anything.'
 
Overtime
 
David Duval is struggling worse than he ever has in his career, but he can't be accused of packing it in.
 
After finishing off an 83 on Saturday -- his worse score ever at the Masters -- Duval headed to the practice range and hit balls for about an hour before cleaning out his locker and heading home.
 
Duval declined comment when asked about his two rounds.
 
He finished at 18-over 162 and in some strange company -- tied with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, only four strokes better than Arnold Palmer.
 
Divots
 
Leizl Els continued a tradition of her own. For the last several years, she diagrams every hole at major championships and charts each shot struck by her husband, Ernie, and whoever else is in the Big Easy's group.
 
Vijay Singh went 28 consecutive holes without a bogey until making one on the 11th hole in third round.
 
Craig Stadler started in a tie for last and finished in last all alone. He shot 79 and wound up at 228, two strokes behind Kenny Perry and Pat Perez.
 
Mickelson has a new mark on his golf ball this week -- the name of his son, Evan Samuel Mickelson, is stamped on the side.
 
Related Links:
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • Photo Gallery
  • Augusta National Course Tour
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
     
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

    Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

    Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

    Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

    Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


    FALLING

    Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

    Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

    Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

    Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

    Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

    Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.