Els Woods Renew Rivalry at Bay Hill
Woods and Els headline the Bay Hill Invitational, which boasts a field consisting of eight of the top-10 ranked players in the world.
History ' both recent and removed ' suggest that both of these men will be in contention come Sunday.
I think Ernie and I have probably gone down the stretch more times than any other player that Ive played against, said Woods, who has personally made Els a runner-up on six occasions. Ive got him a couple of times and hes got me a couple of times.
Woods is the two-time defending champion. He entered last years event winless on the PGA Tour over a span of eight starts. He does the same in 2002.
Els, on the other hand, has won each of the past two weeks. First, he ended an 18-month victory drought on tour by winning the Genuity Championship ' holding off a hard-charging Tiger in the process.
Els then made the 15 -hour flight from Miami to the United Arab Emirates to win the Dubai Desert Classic. Another 17-hour flight later, and the travel-weary South African is back in the Sunshine State.
The jet-lag coming back this way is not that bad, said Els, who also captured the Heineken Classic in Australia in February. I had a lot of jet-lag last week.
It didnt seem to matter. But thats the way its been lately for Els. Nothing seems to affect him. He flies halfway around the world and dismisses the field. Tiger claws at his back and he brushes him aside.
The 1998 Bay Hill champion has climbed back to No. 3 in the world, and hes beginning to feel like No. 1.
(My success) has been a combination of attitude and a lot of hard work on the range, a lot of hard work off the golf course, trying to stay in shape, he said. I think its just been a combination of those three things.
You know, finally its starting to pay off now. So, were in March and weve got a long way to go, but Im really looking forward to every week I play now.
That enthusiasm has helped keep Els in the present, which is important with the seasons first major looming on the horizon.
Im more focused in what Im doing at the moment, rather than, you know, just channel all my energy into Augusta, which is a month away, Els said.
Woods, likewise, is trying to concentrate on the task at hand, though the Masters is on everyones mind. A year ago, it was: Can Tiger win his fourth straight major? Now, its: What do you think of the dramatic course changes?
Click to read about the Augusta National alterations
I like the changes, what they have done, said the 1997 and 2001 Masters champion. I like how they have now made driving a priority, not just hitting second shots, and, obviously, putting, but now youve got to get the ball in play.
I played it about three weeks ago. I cant fault anything they have done there, he said. It really just plays into the hands of anybody that can hit the ball far.
i.e., Els and Woods.
Accurate, yet long drives will also be a premium this week on the 7,239-yard Bay Hill course. Players will have to find the fairway ' the closer to the green the better ' in order to have any chance of attacking the renovated greens.
The greens are really firm, as firm as Ive ever seen them, Els said.
Added Woods: The greens are completely different a lot more difficult. Theres no doubt about it.
Tougher conditions only aid the world's best players, making another Tiger-Ernie showdown more likely.
'I always like to get in a position where I can play him down the stretch,' said Woods, 'because it is a lot of fun.'
Full field and tee times for the Bay Hill Invitational
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.
The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.
There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18