Els Does It Again in Defense

By Sports NetworkFebruary 2, 2003, 5:00 pm
VICTORIA, Australia -- Ernie Els fired a final round 7-under 65 Sunday to claim a one shot victory, and successfully defend his title, at the Heineken Classic. Els, who finished at 15-under 273, gained the win as Peter Lonard faltered on the final hole.
 
After dueling throughout the round, the tournament came down to the final hole and the final pairing. Lonard was tied with Els at minus-15 and overnight leader Nick Faldo was one stoke behind as he and Lonard teed off the final hole.
 
Lonard, who shot a 4-under 68, was unable to convert a 10-foot par putt at the last thus dropping him into a share of second place. Faldo, who had been tied for the lead through 12 holes, parred the final eight holes of the tournament to join Lonard in second place at 14-under 274.
 
The exciting final round dual included as many as six different players within one stroke of the lead during the round, after beginning the day with 16 golfers within four shots of the lead.
 
Els, who joins Michael Campbell as the only two men to win back-to-back Heineken Classic titles, began the day three shots behind Faldo. The two-time U.S. Open champion got off to a hot start with birdies on four of his first five holes to climb to 12-under. Els faltered at the sixth, his lone bogey of the day, to drop two shots off the pace.
 
The second-ranked player in the world parred his next two holes before back-to-back birdies beginning at the ninth got him to minus-13. Els was tied for second, one shot behind Faldo heading to the 13th after parring Nos. 11 and 12.
 
Els ran in a birdie putt at 13 to join Faldo and Lonard atop the leaderboard at 14-under.
 
'I think the shot that really made me believe I had a real chance to win was on the 13th,' said Els. 'It's a pretty tough par four and the flag was back left. I wasn't putting all that well and when I made the putt down the hill there, it gave me a bit of momentum going into that tough stretch of holes.'
 
Els notched his final birdie of the day at the 14th and took over first place by himself for the time being.
 
'I birdied 14, hitting a nice shot in there, and after that I could see I was in the lead,' Els said.
 
The 33-year-old parred in, including sinking a miraculous putt on 16, to finish at 15-under. Els also made a strong up-and-down from a bunker at the final hole to preserve his score.
 
Els, who seemed to be tiring after four tournaments in three different countries over the past four weeks, posted his third victory of the season. He previously won two PGA Tour events, the Mercedes Championship and the Sony Open in Hawaii. He also finished second last week at the Caltex Masters in Singapore.
 
'I guess it all started at the World Match Play in October,' said Els, who has won four of the last five tournaments in which he has played. 'I remember my very first match there I shot 60. That was quite nice. Then I kept it going. I had a good schedule, nice, easy schedule to the end of the year.'
 
Lonard started his day one shot behind Faldo. He posted birdies at Nos. 2, 4 and 5 to get to 12-under. He was still one behind Faldo at that point. However, the 1997 Ericsson Masters champion took the lead with a birdie on eight. Lonard followed that with another birdie at nine to make the turn at minus-14, one stroke ahead of Faldo and Els.
 
The 2001 ANZ Championship winner parred 10 and 11 to remain at 14-under, as Els and Faldo tied him for the lead. Lonard stretched his string of pars to four straight with pars at Nos. 12 and 13. At this point, Lonard had fallen one behind Els.
 
Lonard birdied 14 to move back into a share of the lead with Els. Lonard then parred 15 through 17. He faltered, with just his third bogey of the tournament, on the final hole to drop back to second place after finding the same bunker as Els did.
 
Faldo, who closed with a 3-under 69, started quickly with birdies on his first two holes, including his fourth birdie of the tournament at the par-5 second, to move to minus-13. He maintained a one stroke lead with pars on the next three holes.
 
The six-time major winner dropped into a share of the lead with a bogey at six. Faldo later fell one behind Lonard, when Lonard birdied the eighth.
 
Faldo climbed back into a tie for the lead with consecutive birdies beginning at the ninth. Faldo remained at 14-under as he parred the last eight holes he played, dropping as low as third place before finishing tied with Lonard in second.
 
Needing a birdie to tie the lead on the final hole, Faldo hit his second shot over the green and could only manage to get up-and-down for par.
 
Paul Casey (70), Stephen Gallacher (65) and Soren Kjeldsen (67), who were all within a shot of the lead at different points during the final round, finished tied for fourth at 12-under 276. They were joined there by Gary Evans (66) and David Lynn (69).
 
Peter Fowler and Bob Friend tied for ninth two shots further back at minus-10. Stephen Allan, John Bickerton and David Bransdon shared 11th place at 9-under.
 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Heineken Classic
  • Full coverage of the Heineken Classic
  • Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: