Els Captures Comeback Win in South Africa

By Sports NetworkDecember 11, 2005, 5:00 pm
European TourNELSPRUIT, South Africa -- Ernie Els carded his second straight round of 4-under 68 on Sunday to win the dunhill championship for the fourth time. Els completed the event at 14-under-par 274 and took advantage of a back-nine collapse by third-round leader Ulrich Van den Berg.
Els collected his 22nd European Tour win in just his second event back from knee surgery. In his first event last week, he was never a factor at the Nedbank Challenge, where he finished ninth. Els injured his knee in late July while vacationing after the British Open.
'It might come across a bit cocky if you say you are going to win considering my circumstances,' said Els. 'But I was hitting the ball well enough to have a chance.'
Louis Oosthuizen and last year's winner, Charl Schwartzel, each posted rounds of 2-under 70 to share second place at 11-under-par 277.
Van den Berg, who was bidding to be the seventh straight first-time winner here, struggled to a 4-over 76. His back nine included three bogeys and two double bogeys as he shot seven-over 44 on the second nine.
The 76 dropped Van den Berg into a share of fourth place at 8-under-par 280. He was joined there by Bobby Lincoln (65), David Lynn (68) and Trevor Immelman (68).
Van den Berg posted a 65 in the third round to lead by two entering the final round at Leopard Creek Country Club. He was in control of the event throughout the front nine.
The South African ran off four birdies in a six-hole stretch from the second to jump to 16-under. At that point, Van den Berg had a three-stroke cushion over Els.
Van den Berg's troubles began at the ninth. He stumbled to a bogey there, his second on that hole this week, and it was all downhill from there.
Els meanwhile kept pace as he picked up birdies on one and two to move to minus-12. Els got within three with a birdie on the short par-4 sixth, but he tripped to a bogey at the next.
The two-time U.S. Open winner ran off five straight pars around the turn as Van den Berg began to stumble. Despite those five pars, Els walked to the 13th tee with the lead.
Van den Berg triple-bogeyed the 11th and bogeyed the 12th to fall to 11 under, one stroke behind Els. Van den Berg finally got one stroke back with a birdie on No. 15. However, he double bogeyed the 16th after his tee shot found water, then bogeyed 17 and 18 to end six shots back.
'I just melted down. I hit a bad tee shot on 11 and lost a lot of confidence after that,' stated a down-trodden Van den Berg.
Els birdied the par-5 13th to move to 13 under, two clear of Van den Berg. Els picked up his third birdie in the last three rounds on the par-5 15th. He then closed with three straight pars to collect the win.
'I think it was my experience that helped me pull this one off, but I really feel for Ulrich,' Els said. 'He was so relaxed and putting so well that after eight holes I turned to Simon (Masilo) said I didn't know how we were going to catch him.
'But then the wheels came off a little bit and that opened the door for me. But he is a great golfer and a true gentleman and I really admire the way he kept his composure. I'm not sure that I could have behaved that way under the circumstances.'
Joakim Haeggman shot a 4-under 68 in the final round to get to 7-under-par 281, where he finished alongside Alan Michell (72), Jaco Van Zyl (73) and Sean Farrell (71).
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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."