Els to Face Singh in Semi-finals

By Sports NetworkOctober 17, 2003, 4:00 pm
SURREY, England -- Ernie Els survived a late rally by Tim Clark, who won four consecutive holes down the stretch on Friday, to advance to the semi-finals of the World Match Play Championship after a 1-up victory.
 
Els, the defending champion who has won this event four times overall, will face Vijay Singh on Saturday. Singh needed 38 holes to hold off Shaun Micheel on Friday and will now meet the world No. 2 in the semis for the second straight year.
 
In a return trip to England, British Open champion Ben Curtis disposed of Chad Campbell, 5 and 3. Masters winner Mike Weir was not as fortunate and came out on the losing end of a 5-and-4 drubbing courtesy of Thomas Bjorn.
 
Els played steadily in the morning at the Wentworth Club and used an eagle at the par-5 12th en route to a 2-up lead after the first 18.
 
The South African picked up steam in the afternoon and knocked his tee shot inside two feet at the par-3 fifth to win the hole and go 3-up. He followed that up with an 18-foot birdie at the sixth and another birdie at the seventh to open a commanding lead at 5-up.
 
Things got interesting on the inward half after Els bogeyed the 13th to lose the hole. Clark then won the 14th with a birdie and the 15th with a par.
 
At the par-4 16th, Clark dropped his approach within five feet of the hole and drained the birdie putt to win his fourth consecutive hole and pull within one.
 
Both players birdied the 17th to keep Clark's hopes alive but Els put the match away with a birdie at the last.
 
'You have to take your hat off to Tim Clark because he showed so much character coming down the stretch,' said Els. 'I had him 5-down before I played that tee shot into the bush on the 13th. Before then I felt in control and comfortable but I gave him a little breathing room and he totally responded.'
 
Clark took plenty away from the experience as he prepares to compete at the Presidents Cup next month.
 
'I'm proud of myself for the way I kept going and it is nice that at least I made Ernie work very hard in the end,' said Clark. 'I enjoyed being part of this tournament.'
 
Micheel was 2-up after the morning session and took a 3-up lead with an eagle at the par-5 fourth after his second shot stopped four feet from the hole.
 
Singh battled back with wins at the sixth and the seventh before pulling even with Micheel after a birdie at the ninth.
 
Micheel hit a bunker shot to five feet at the par-4 16th and ran home the putt for a birdie to regain a 1-up lead. The PGA champion found trouble on the very next hole, however, and sent his ball out of bounds twice before conceding the par-5 17th.
 
Singh and Micheel matched birdies at the 18th and pars at the first. Micheel found trouble off the tee again at the par-3 second and kicked his ball into a greenside bunker.
 
Micheel couldn't recover and bogeyed the hole giving the match to Singh.
 
'I'm really happy with the result,' said Singh. 'Any time you win a match, a long battle like that, you feel for the other guy. It was a long day and a tough day especially with the swirling winds and the greens were getting firm.'
 
Curtis began to put his match out of reach after a birdie at the par-5 12th in the afternoon gave him a 3-up lead over Campbell.
 
Campbell gave another hole away with a bogey at the 14th to fall 4-down and found further trouble at the 15th before conceding the hole and the match.
 
'I'm really thrilled to get through,' said Curtis. 'To be honest I haven't been playing very well of late and I have been working on a few things so I'm glad they worked out and really glad to be playing tomorrow.'
 
Bjorn was in complete control of his match with Weir as the Canadian never held a single lead throughout the day.
 
The Dane completed the victory with a birdie at the 14th and will move on to meet Curtis, who took the glory at Royal St. George's this summer after Bjorn's late collapse.
 
'I lost the Open and whoever I lost it to it wouldn't have made any difference,' said Bjorn. 'I lost it to Ben Curtis but it could have been Tiger Woods and it would have felt the same.'
 
Related Links:
  • HSBC World Match Play Scoring
  • TGC Airtimes
  • Full coverage - HSBC World Match Play Championship
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.