Els Classic at 1997 Buick

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Not often does a golfer win two tournaments at the same course in back-to-back years. Its even more rare that he does it at the same time he wins back-to-back tournaments in the same year. The rarest of all is that this revolves around the U.S. Open.
 
Such were the superlatives of Ernie Els, who won the Buick Classic at Westchester in 1996. He won the U.S. Open in 1997. And the week after ' he won again at Westchester.
 
Els had won by a whopping eight shots at this event the year before, in 96. And in 97, he had started the same way. When he birdied three in a row starting at the 10th in the third round, he had again amassed ' you guessed it ' an eight-shot lead.
 
But Els made a couple of bogeys before the third round ended and Jeff Maggert birdied three. So as the field prepared to tee off Sunday, Els was ahead by only three shots.
 
If Ernie plays well, itll be tough, said Maggert, who had finished fourth at the U.S. Open. I have to play well from the get-go. I cant play bad and expect to win.
 
Maggert hung tough, eventually getting to within a shot of Els before rains postponed play after the fourth hole. But the suspension lasted for two hours, apparently cooling off Maggert a little.
 
Els would eventually hike his margin of victory back to three shots. And when Maggert came up to offer congratulations, he suddenly slipped a foot behind Ernies and tried playfully to trip Els.
 
Els surpassed Tiger Woods for No. 1 on the world rankings ' actually he passed Colin Montgomerie and Greg Norman at the same time. Even Els agreed that, in the summer of 97, he was playing better than anyone else on the planet.
 
Right now, I would think so, drawled Els. Ive never said that before in my life. But yeah, I feel I probably am. My record shows it.
 
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