Els Earns Yet Another Comeback Victory

By Sports NetworkMarch 13, 2005, 5:00 pm
DOHA, Qatar -- Ernie Els overcame a five-stroke deficit on a windy Sunday to capture the Qatar Masters. He fired a final-round, 7-under 65 to win by a stroke at 12-under-par 276.
Henrik Stenson, the overnight leader, dropped three shots at the 13th and 14th holes to fall off the pace, but made things interesting in the end. He birdied three of his last four holes, but needed an eagle at 18 to force a playoff. Stenson posted a 1-under 71 to take second at minus-11.
'I'm happy with the way I finished. I fought well and I have to say it was a fantastic round by Ernie,' said Stenson, a two-time winner on the European Tour. 'I knew he would be chasing. I hit a couple of bad shots at the 13th and just missed my drive on 14th and the double bogey was crucial. I was pleased that I was able to regroup and almost birdied the last three holes for a playoff.'
For Els, this is his second win in as many weeks. He captured last week's Dubai Desert Classic and polished off the 'Middle East Slam' on Sunday. This was Els' 20th win on the European Tour and moved him to first on the Order of Merit.
'I really feel good,' said Els. 'My rhythm feels really good at the moment and I'm in a good position at the top of the backswing. When that happens, I can freewheel it and go for the ball. My iron play was a lot better. I feel like my game is right there and I can't wait to get to America now.'
Richard Green also needed an eagle at the last to match Els at minus-12, but he bogeyed the closing hole at Doha Golf Club. Green carded a 1-under 71 and joined Pierre Fulke, who shot a final-round 70, in third at 9-under-par 279.
Els trailed Stenson by five at the start of the final round, but Els steadily moved up the leaderboard. Els traded a birdie and a bogey over his first three holes, but collected three birdies in a row from the fourth to get within four of the lead.
Els, a three-time major winner, birdied the 10th and 12th holes to trail by a stroke from Stenson, as the Swede found trouble with a bogey at 10. Stenson bogeyed the 13th and Els birdied the 16th to grab the lead. Stenson double-bogeyed 14 after a bad drive and now Els was two ahead of Green and three up on Stenson.
The South African birdied the 18th to get into the clubhouse at 12 under par. Stenson birdied 15 and 16 to trail by two and had a look at birdie from 25 feet at the 17th. His putt skirted the edge of the hole and his chip for eagle at the last did not fall, giving Els the victory.
'One hundredth of an inch at the 17th cost me the chance of a playoff,' admitted Stenson, who earned his third top 10 of the season. 'I was certain that putt had to go in.'
Since the putt did not fall, Els became the first player on the European Tour to win in back-to-back weeks since Vijay Singh titled at the Carlsberg Malaysian Open and the Caltex Masters in 2001.
'I wanted to give myself a low score and as it turned out I shot low which you don't normally do,' admitted Els. 'I got lucky and got a win. I must say the middle of the front nine when I made three birdies was big as the wind was really playing up at that time.'
Robert Karlsson (70), James Kingston (69) and Barry Lane (71) shared fifth place at 8-under-par 280. Gregory Havret (71), Raphael Jacquelin (70) and Louis Oosthuizen (68) tied for eighth at minus-7.
Niclas Fasth was tied for second after 54 holes, but struggled on Sunday. He double-bogeyed his second and third holes en route to a 4-over-par 76 and a share of 16th at minus-4.
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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.