Birthday Boy Els Wins Record Sixth

By Sports NetworkOctober 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 HBSC World Match Play ChampionshipSURREY, England -- Ernie Els birdied the 35th hole Sunday, on his 35th birthday, to earn a 2-and-1 win over Lee Westwood in the final of the HSBC World Match Play Championship.
The win for Els was his third straight at this event and sixth overall, giving him the most wins in tournament history. Els also won the title of this event three straight years from 1994-96.
'It's a great feeling. I see Seve over there and I was lucky enough to beat him on this green in 1994 and that was the best victory of my career,' said Els. 'Some great champions here and to win the title six times is a great feeling.'
Westwood, who moved into the final with a 1-up win over Miguel Angel Jimenez, was in the final of this event for the second time. He won the 2000 title when he beat Colin Montgomerie 1-up in 38 holes.
'It wasn't the best golf you've ever seen, but it was competitive I suppose,' said Westwood. 'I just tried to fight to the end. I probably made too many mistakes on the greens today, and Ernie is a deserving champion.'
Westwood stumbled at the first to a bogey to give Els a quick 1-up lead. However, Els faltered to a bogey at the third and the match was all square.
After the duo halved the fourth with eagles, Els tripped to back-to-back bogeys from the fifth to fall 2-down. The South African fought right back with a birdie on the seventh at the Wentworth Club.
Els, who downed an injured Padraig Harrington 5 and 4 in the semifinal, drained another birdie at the ninth to square the match. Els dropped 1-down again when he bogeyed the 10th, but atoned for that error with an eagle at the 12th to even the match.
Westwood again moved ahead when he dropped in a birdie at the 15th, but stumbled to a bogey at the next to square the match.
The match remained all square into the afternoon 18. Els took the lead for good when he drained a birdie try at the 21st hole. The 2002 British Open champion came right back with an eagle at the next to move 2-up.
Westwood birdied the 23rd hole to get back within 1-down. The pair scrambled to pars at the next four holes. The Englishman missed the green at the 28th hole. He pitched to 9 feet, but missed his par putt to again fall 2-down.
Both men parred the next four holes. Els stumbled to a three-putt bogey at the 33rd. Westwood did the same at the next hole and faced a 2-down deficit with two holes to go.
At the 35th, Els' second shot to the par-5 came up short in the right rough. Westwood, battling a cold that was draining his energy, knocked his second on the green and gave himself a look at eagle.
Els pitched his third to 20 feet. Westwood then rolled his eagle try to tap-in range. Els calmly drained his birdie putt to win the match 2 and 1.
'Well I tell you I got quite fortunate today,' Els said. 'Lee said it earlier, it wasn't the greatest golf, but that is match play. I just tried to stay the course and hit fairways and greens. I couldn't get my iron shots close and Lee hit a great shot in there on 16. I made it difficult for myself, but that's match play.'
'I played pretty good overall,' Westwood said. 'It's a long tiring week and I just ran out of gas there at the end. I haven't felt too good today, but that's part of the game I suppose.'
Related Links:
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.