Weekend Fireworks on Tap

By Mercer BaggsMarch 21, 2003, 5:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ernie Els got off to a green-light start Friday, caught a very long red light in the middle of his round, and then punched the gas coming home.
 
It was that kind of stop-and-go day at the Bay Hill Invitational.
 
Els birdied his first four holes en route to moving from a tie for 42nd as the day began into a share of the lead, at 3-under.
 
He then had to wait out a near five-hour stoppage. A deluge brought play to a halt for four hours and 47 minutes. Play resumed at 4:00 PM ET, and when darkness finally brought an end to an exhausting day, Els found himself still at the top in the clubhouse lead.
 
Els shot 7-under 65, tying his career-low round in this event, which hes played every year since 1993. Hes at 5-under-par 139.
 
Aaron Baddeley, who lost to Els in a playoff at the Sony Open, birdied each of his first three holes before the siren sounded to conclude play at 6:37. Hes at 6-under.
 
Jonathan Kaye is at 5-under. He is through nine holes of his second round. Former Bay Hill resident Steve Lowery (67), Peter Lonard (69) and Niclas Fasth (68) are in at 4-under.
 
Sixty-one players did not complete their second rounds. They will recommence at 7:00 AM Saturday.
 
That includes Tiger Woods, who was scheduled to go out at 12:30 PM, but didnt hit his first shot until 4:50. Despite the delay, his afternoon was nonetheless eventful.
 
Woods left the course during the suspension when his girlfriend of nearly two years, Swedish model Elin Nordegren, collapsed due to dehydration from food poisoning earlier in the week. Friends were escorting Nordegren when she dropped to the ground in the parking lot.
 
Roughly 20 minutes after being helped to the clubhouse by Fanny Sunesson, Nick Faldos caddie, Nordegren was carried by stretcher into a paramedics truck. Woods accompanied her to nearby Sand Lake Hospital, where she received fluids.
 
'She is doing well, but is a little sick,' Woods said. 'I assume she was released because when I left they said she was only going to be there for another hour.'
 
Upon his return, Woods made four birdies and two bogeys in seven holes. He goes to bed just one back of Els at 4-under, and most assured of making his 100th consecutive cut in a PGA Tour event. The record is 113 by Byron Nelson.
 
'I made a couple of mistakes, but still ended up under par for the day. I am very pleased,' Woods said.
 
The resumption of play assured that Jack Nicklaus would not be around for the weekend and Arnold Palmer can focus more on his role as tournament host.
 
Palmer, playing in possibly his final PGA Tour event, followed his worst score ever in this tournament, a 15-over 87, with an 85. Nicklaus shot 82-76.
 
Woods and Els are both holding up their ends of the bargain in setting up a much desired Sunday showdown between the worlds top-2 ranked players.
 
It will be great for the fans and (the media), Els said. Speaking for myself, I just want to get better.
 
If I get to the level I want to play at, Im going to play a lot with Tiger, because hes on that level.
 
The Big Easy was easily the hottest player on the course when play was initially halted at 11:13 AM. Starting the day at 2-over, he quickly shot up the leaderboard and moved into a nine-way share of the lead when the rains returned.
 
The course was already quite wet following early morning showers at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge Friday, leaving the greens far more receptive than when Els stepped off the course Thursday evening.
 
And he took advantage.
 
He started his day by making a 47-footer for birdie at the par-4 10th. He then made an eight-footer at 11, a six-footer at 12 and a 12-footer at the 13th.
 
I wanted to get off to a good start, which I did, Els said. You dont plan to make four birdies in a row from the first hole, but I just hit the shots in the right places and made some good putts and off I went.
 
His run came to an end when he just missed an 18-footer at 14. That began a stretch of seven straight pars. It ended in fine fashion when he made a 25-foot birdie at the par-4 third.
 
He then took an extended time-out with his ball in the fairway at the par-4 fifth.
 
When you play well going into a rain delay you have to make sure you dont ruin it coming back out, Els said.
 
He narrowly avoided disaster at the par-5 sixth when his ball barley cleared the massive lake protecting the green. As he did in a similar situation on 16 Thursday, he got up and down for birdie. He then finished his scoring with a 20-foot birdie at the par-3 seventh.
 
Els said he was pleased that he was able to finish his round and avoid waking up early just to play a couple of holes Saturday morning before teeing off in the afternoon. However, he added that he didnt get the good end of the draw.
 
Playing yesterday afternoon in those conditions and then spending all day at the golf course today, I just think the guys playing yesterday morning are going to get another morning round in again, Els said in reference to the fact that the other side of the draw will get to play two rounds where they will be greeted with softer, more ideal scoring conditions.
 
Still, a bit of history is on Els side. The last time weather affected this event was 1998. That year Els outlasted Woods and Davis Love III over a 36-hole final day.
 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Bay Hill Invitational
  • Full coverage of the Bay Hill Invitational
  • Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

    Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

    With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

    Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

    The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

    Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

    In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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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.