Els Takes a Ride On a Rollercoaster

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Ernie Els has built a career making the impossible seem possible.
 
Ernie ElsThat can be good and bad.
 
The good? At No. 7 in the third round of the Masters on Saturday, he flew a 9-iron onto the green and rolling, rolling, rolling -- right into the hole for eagle.
 
The bad? He hit a beautiful approach on No. 14 that landed inches away from the cup, then inexplicably spun backward -- uphill all the way off the heavily-contoured green.
 
'I got robbed there,' Els said. 'To me, it was almost impossible that could happen.'
 
The bad luck on 14 resulted in the first of two straight bogeys, and when his even-par round was over, Els was thinking more about the disaster there than the eagle on 7.
 
The Big Easy finished at 1 over, six strokes behind Jeff Maggert. Considered Tiger Woods' most legitimate challenge at the Masters, Els' chances for a fourth major are in considerable trouble.
 
'I guess when I calm down and really think about today, I'd like to think there's still a chance,' Els said. 'But it's an uphill climb.'
 
Langer Goes Home
 
While Tiger Woods was still in contention for a third straight Masters title, another streak came to an end at Augusta National.
 
Bernhard Langer failed to make the cut for the first time since his Masters debut in 1982. The German returned in 1984 and cleared the 36-hole barrier 19 times in a row, the longest active streak in the tournament.
 
Langer missed the cut by a whopping six strokes after shooting rounds of 79 and 76, leaving him 11-over par. He fell short of the Masters record, 23 consecutive cuts made by Gary Player from 1959-82.
 
Also going home: John Huston, who had made the cut at Augusta 12 times in a row dating to 1990.
 
Fred Couples now has the longest active streak, stretching his run to 19 in a row when he made the cut with one stroke to spare.
 
Unusual Nine
 
It wasn't just any old quadruple bogey for Darren Clarke.
 
Most players who implode on the par-5 13th hole do it by hitting ball after ball into Rae's Creek. Clarke only hit one in there.
 
Darren ClarkeThe Northern Irishman yanked his tee shot into the woods, chipped out for his second, and hit his third into the water. After a drop, he hit his fifth shot through the green, then took four strokes to get down for a round-ruining 9.
 
It was the low point of his round of 78, a score that took him from the lead after Friday's play was called by darkness, to a tie for 27th.
 
'There are momentum swings out there for everybody,' Clarke said. 'Augusta doesn't give you anything.'
 
Overtime
 
David Duval is struggling worse than he ever has in his career, but he can't be accused of packing it in.
 
After finishing off an 83 on Saturday -- his worse score ever at the Masters -- Duval headed to the practice range and hit balls for about an hour before cleaning out his locker and heading home.
 
Duval declined comment when asked about his two rounds.
 
He finished at 18-over 162 and in some strange company -- tied with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, only four strokes better than Arnold Palmer.
 
Divots
 
Leizl Els continued a tradition of her own. For the last several years, she diagrams every hole at major championships and charts each shot struck by her husband, Ernie, and whoever else is in the Big Easy's group.
 
Vijay Singh went 28 consecutive holes without a bogey until making one on the 11th hole in third round.
 
Craig Stadler started in a tie for last and finished in last all alone. He shot 79 and wound up at 228, two strokes behind Kenny Perry and Pat Perez.
 
Mickelson has a new mark on his golf ball this week -- the name of his son, Evan Samuel Mickelson, is stamped on the side.
 
Related Links:
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
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  • Augusta National Course Tour
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
     
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