Els Makes It Look Easy in Ireland

By Sports NetworkOctober 1, 2004, 4:00 pm
KILKENNY, Ireland -- Ernie Els fired an 8-under 64 Friday to take the lead midway through the World Golf Championships - American Express Championship. He stands at 11-under-par 133 at Mount Juliet Conrad.
 
Overnight leader and reigning British Open champion Todd Hamilton shot a 3-under 69 and shares second place with Miguel Angel Jimenez, who carded a second-round 68. The duo is knotted at 9-under-par 135.
 
Heavy rain pelted the course for short intervals on Friday. Wind was up and play was contested under lift, clean and place for the second consecutive round.
 
Tiger Woods seemed to feel much better on Friday after back pain caused him to grimace and growl throughout his opening round on Thursday. In the second round, Woods did not show any outward signs of the injury he incurred while sleeping funny on a plane last week.
 
The two-time defending champion posted a 2-under 70 and is part of a group tied for ninth at minus-6.
 
'I feel much better today,' said Woods, who has three wins in four starts at this event. 'At least I could make somewhat of a turn and get the ball out there a little bit. Just still not quite right yet.'
 
Woods made two nice pars at the first two holes, then ran home a 15-footer for birdie at the fourth. He drained a 9-foot birdie putt at the seventh, and closed his front nine with a 32-foot birdie putt.
 
Woods three-putted the 12th green for his first bogey of the round. His second at the par-5 17th landed in a greenside bunker, but the No. 2 player in the world blasted out to 3 feet to set up birdie. Woods came up short with his approach at the closing hole and left with bogey to fall five behind Els.
 
'I had two three-putts and left two short ones there, so four putts right there, four shots. I could have been at 10 under par easily,' admitted Woods. 'If I would have putted better, I could have shot 66 no problem today. I just had four holes where I just spent a little more time on the greens than I should have.'
 
But Els' play was a bigger story than Woods' back on Friday.
 
The South African flew out of the gate in the second round. He rolled in a 4-footer for birdie at the first and made it back-to-back birdies with a 12-footer at the second. Els hit his tee ball to a foot to set up his third consecutive birdie at the par-3 third and made it four in a row with a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 4.
 
'I got off to a perfect start,' said Els. 'I knew it was going to be rough today. I actually took my time getting out to the range this morning. I normally take an hour to get out there, but today I waited and waited.'
 
The wait was worth it for Els.
 
He sank an 18-foot birdie putt at the ninth to go to minus-8 and take a two-shot lead. Els could not reach the green in two at the 10th because the rain was coming down hard. His second landed in a greenside bunker, where he blasted out to 7 feet and converted the birdie putt.
 
Els dropped his first shot of the round at 11. His 7-iron tee shot at the par-3 hole went through the green, but he chipped to 4 feet. Els missed the putt, but would atone for the mistake later in his round.
 
At the 14th, Els hit a 5-iron 10 feet behind the hole and made the putt. He added another birdie at 15 when his pitching-wedge second shot stopped 4 feet from the hole. Els failed to land on the green with a 3-wood at the par-5 17th, but he chipped to inches and tapped in the birdie try.
 
Els holed a clutch 10-footer for par at 18 to preserve his two-shot advantage.
 
'I'm leading at the moment, but leading right now doesn't mean much,' said Els, who has not won since the Memorial at the end of May. 'We've got a lot of golf to be played and I've got a lot of birdies to be made.'
 
Hamilton, who defeated Els in a playoff at Royal Troon to win the claret jug, hung with Els when the South African took the lead. Hamilton birdied the second and the par-5 eighth to make the turn at 2-under 34.
 
Hamilton never got anything going on the back nine after a 5-foot birdie putt at the 10th. He parred his final eight holes, including a tough 5-footer at the 15th, to stay within two of Els' lead.
 
'I've played well the last couple of days,' said Hamilton. 'It's easy to enjoy your golf when you're not making bogeys. I kept the round going. I had some good chips and made some good putts.'
 
Jimenez was even through 10 holes, but got going on the back nine. He birdied the par-3 11th and added another at 16. The Spaniard drained a 50-foot eagle putt at the 17th and hit a spectacular third shot to save par at the 18th.
 
Justin Leonard, the 1997 British Open champion, who lost in a playoff at the PGA Championship, carded his second 4-under 68 in as many days to take fourth at 8-under-par 136.
 
Lee Westwood, Thomas Bjorn, and current reigning U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen all posted rounds of 3-under 69 and are tied for fifth place with Steve Flesch, who shot a 70 on Friday. The group is knotted at 7-under-par 137.
 
Woods was joined in ninth by local favorite Padraig Harrington (69), his Ryder Cup teammates David Howell (69) and Luke Donald (71), Brad Faxon (68) and Angel Cabrera (69).
 
Sergio Garcia, who held the lead throughout much of Thursday's opening round until Hamilton went by him, only managed an even-par 72 on Friday and is part of a group tied for 15th at minus-5.
 
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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.


    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos


    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.