Els Adds Memorial to Victory List

By Sports NetworkJune 6, 2004, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Ernie Els carded his second straight 6-under 66 Sunday to cruise to a four-stroke win over Fred Couples at The Memorial Tournament. Els completed the event at 18-under-par 270.
 
The South African Els became the fourth non-American champion in 29 years of the Memorial, joining Fijian Vijay Singh and Australians David Graham and Greg Norman as winners here. He also becomes the first player in event history to hold at least a share of the opening-round lead and go on to win the tournament.
 
'It was a tough week, but a very rewarding week,' said Els, who earned $945,000 for the win. 'My putter really saved me. Tiger (Woods) pushed us on the front nine. Then Freddie was pushing me. Luckily, I was able to make some big putts.'
 
Couples shot a final-round 68 to finish at 14-under-par 274. Woods, a three-time Memorial winner who at one point tied for the lead, ended with a 3-under 69 to finish at 12-under-par 276. Justin Rose was one stroke behind him at minus-11.
 
K.J. Choi struggled to an even-par 72 in the final round. He ended the event at 10-under-par 278, while Stephen Ames and 2003 Memorial winner Kenny Perry came in at minus-9.
 
Els opened the round with a two-stroke lead, but he dropped out of the lead with a bogey at the par-3 fourth. Couples chipped in for birdie at the same hole, his fifth chip in for birdie or eagle in the tournament, to jump to minus-12. He stood one shot ahead of Els.
 
Els, a two-time U.S. Open champion, came right back to birdie the fifth and join Couples in the lead. Couples and Els parred the fifth and were joined at 12 under by Woods, who birdied four, five and seven.
 
Woods, the World No. 1, could only par out, including a spectacular chip-in for par at the 14th at Muirfield Village. He had chipped in for par on the same hole en route to his win here in 1999. Woods went on to finish third for his third straight top-4 finish.
 
'I hit the ball very well this week,' said Woods, who won three straight Memorials from 1999. 'I'm playing better and this was another step in the right direction.'
 
Els regained the lead as he dropped in back-to-back birdies from the seventh and moved three clear of Couples with a birdie at the 10th. Couples fought back to within one shot of Els with consecutive birdies from No. 11.
 
Els stretched his lead back to two with a 30-foot birdie putt at the 13th. After making a stellar up-and-down par save at the 16th, Els closed the event in style.
 
The 2002 British Open champion birdied the 17th, as did Couples, to remain two clear of the field. Els then dropped his second shot within 5 feet of the hole at the last.
 
Els calmly rolled in the birdie putt for the four-shot win, as Couples bogeyed the final hole. With the win, Els joins Tom Watson and tournament host Jack Nicklaus as the only players to have won the British Open at Muirfield in Scotland and this event at Muirfield Village in Ohio.
 
'It means a lot. It's not quite like any other tournament,' said Els, who set a tournament record in needing just 100 putts to complete four rounds. 'It's got a little more prestige to it, especially with Jack Nicklaus as the host. And if you look at the winners roll, there's been quite a few great champions. I'm just so happy the way everything finished off.'
 
Couples, who won this event 1998, returned to the top 10 here after not playing last season and missing the cut in 2002.
 
'I was right there the whole time,' said Couples. 'That's a great feeling for me. I was second, but lost to the best player by far. He just turned it on on the back nine.'
 
Reigning British Open champion Ben Curtis closed with an even-par 72 to share eighth place at 6-under-par 282. He was joined there by Retief Goosen (71) and 50-year-old Jay Haas (71).
 
Rory Sabbatini, John Daly, Stephen Leaney, J.L. Lewis and Peter Lonard ended one shot behind that trio at minus-5.
 
Nicklaus rolled in a 10-foot par putt on the last to close with a 1-under 71. He shared 63rd place at 7-over-par 295.
 
'If I play again, then it won't make much difference, but if I don't play again I've shot under par the last tournament round I've played,' said Nicklaus, who has strongly hinted that his competitive playing days are over. 'I struggled with a few things, but basically played a pretty darn good round of golf. I had a chance to shoot a pretty darn low round, actually, and screwed it up a little bit, but still played all right.'
 
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x