Els can sense hes close

By Randall MellMarch 13, 2010, 5:28 am

2010 WGC-CA ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. – Ernie Els can sense he’s close.

His game’s turning back on familiar pathways, along exhilarating routes that have led to mountaintops he’s eager to revisit.

The climb back to his best golf is taking him through the TPC Blue Monster at Doral this week.

“I’m in a really good space right now,” Els said after posting a 6-under-par 66 Friday to take the second-round lead at the WGC-CA Championship.

Els holds his first 36-hole lead in a PGA Tour event since he won the Honda Classic two years ago. It’s confirmation that his full powers may be coming within reach again, powers that helped him win 60 times around the world, 16 of them PGA Tour events.

This weekend will be about remembering how to close. Els, in his prime, could close hard and fast when he got his hands around a lead. He’s won five of the last six times he has taken a 36-hole lead in PGA Tour events.

Els, though, turned 40 last October. He’s won just one PGA Tour event in the last five years. There’s been angst and frustration feeling his powers slip away, but that’s what makes this opportunity feel so good. Els won at Doral in ’02 and likes where he’s got his game again.

“For some reason, I feel really good mentally this year,” said Els, who had top-10 finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open and Northern Trust Open and a tie for 12th at the Sony Open. “I feel a bit more fresh than I’ve been. I’m up for it a little bit more this year. I’m a bit more excited about my whole game.”

That came through in the aftermath of last Sunday’s finish, when Els stunk it up in the final round of the Honda Classic.

He shot 75, his worst round of the year leading to his worst finish of the year, a tie for 67th.

Instead of stomping home and moping around his house at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla., just up the road from the Honda Classic, he marched to the club’s driving range. He stayed until dark, hitting balls to work out what had gone wrong in an otherwise solid start to this season. He’s been a fiend on the range this spring.

“I feel like I’m close, and I don’t want to let it go,” Els said.

Charl Schwartzel, an up-and-coming young star from Els’ native South Africa, is three shots behind Els. He knows how close Els believes he’s getting to top form because he was Els’ house guest all last week. Els dragged him to the range with him after that lousy finish at Honda.

“I hit balls with Ernie,” Schwartzel said. “People probably don’t think he practices that much, but he works a hell of a lot. I told him, his swing looks so good, it’s only a matter of time until he plays as he can play.”

Chubby Chandler, Els’ agent, sees a man possessed.

“Ernie’s working harder than I’ve ever seen him work before,” Chandler said.

Els moved his family from their London base to Jupiter almost two years ago. It’s a move Els believes is good for both his family and his game. A large reason for the move was to get his 7-year-old son, Ben, the special help South Florida offers for children with autism. Els publicly revealed his son’s condition shortly after winning the Honda Classic two years ago. He formed the Els for Autism Foundation and is helping the fight to find the causes of autism.

As part of the move, Els cut back his traditionally extensive international schedule. He's spending less time making transcontinental flights and more time tinkering around the house.

“Being at home here with the kids must be a positive, spending a bit more time there,” Els said. “I felt a bit more grounded. I felt a bit more calm than maybe previous years.”

Bob Rotella, Els’ sports psychologist, sees the difference the new home base is making.

“What peace of mind means is tough to explain,” said Rotella, who worked with Els this week. “Ernie’s very happy living at the Bear’s Club. His wife, his kids, they’re happy and settled in. He’s got a very clear mind about what he’s doing.”

That clear mind sees opportunities to add to three major championships before age finally limits those chances.

“The golf courses we are playing in the majors this year, I love them,” Els said. “I’ve done well at Pebble Beach. I’ve done well at St. Andrews, and I did well at Whistling Straits. I like those courses. I feel if I have my game there, I could have a good chance.”

Els endured heartbreak finishing second to Phil Mickelson at the ’04 Masters. It was his second runner-up finish there.

“I think it’s affected him the last couple years,” Chandler said. “I would love to see him pull it off this weekend because it would give him a different confidence going to the Masters.”

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

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.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. 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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

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.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

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.

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Rory faces criticism

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President at the Presidents Cup

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Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

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Cart on the green

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Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

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Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

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Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

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Pros comment on the president

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm