Notes Els Moving to Fla Poor Monty

By Associated PressMarch 20, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. -- Ernie Els spent last week in West Palm Beach, resting and working on his game as he tries to peak for the Masters. It might not be long before he returns for good.
 
Golfs most global player said Thursday that he was planning to move his home base from London to south Florida, where the weather is more suitable for golf in the winter and he can get strong care for his son, Ben, who is autistic.
 
Els was raised in South Africa, but he has made London his home for most of his professional career. He lives on the 16th hole of the West course Wentworth Golf Club, home of the European Tour and the World Match Play Championship. His daughter, Samantha, is about to turn 9 and it is tough to take her out of school.
 
For me to stay in England in the offseason is tough for me to do, Els said after opening with a 74 in the CA Championship. Im a guy from South Africa. I love the sun. I cant see myself sitting in the cold for three or fourth months. I dont like that. Ive always been comfortable down here. The schools for Ben, especially theres really good stuff happening over here for him.
 
All in all, I think it will be a good move.
 
Els disclosed two weeks ago that Ben, who is 6, has autism. He now has an Autism Speaks logo on his golf bag and wants to get involved raising money for research and awareness for the disorder.
 
He once had a home at Lake Nona in Orlando, but lived there only during long stretches of golf on the U.S. tour.
 
Els spoke to Nick Price, who grew up in Zimbabwe and has lived in Palm Beach County for years, during the Honda Classic, which the Big Easy won for his first PGA Tour victory in 3 1/2 years. Price is one of many friends in South Florida.
 
As for his golfing plans? Els does not think it will affect his schedule.
 
Ill still go to Dubai. I still got at the end of the year overseas, he said. I might put one or two more events into the schedule. Ill be closer to this side.
 
CONFIDENT CADDIE? According to his caddie, Tiger Woods had about a 1-in-15 chance of making that downhill, 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win at Bay Hill last week.
 
But upon further review, Steve Williams must have been confident it was going in.
 
Look at a replay of Woods standing over the putt, and Williams is in the background with his caddie bib already removed. If Woods had missed, there would have been a playoff with Bart Bryant.
 
This was brought to Williams attention Thursday. He thought about it, then smiled.
 
Just a habit, he said.
 
One can only assume the habit was taking off his bib on the 18th green. It had been seven years since Woods was in the final group and made a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win.
 
POOR MONTY: These are desperate times for Colin Montgomerie, who is No. 66 in the world and is at Doral (top 20 from the PGA European Tour money list last year) with one last chance to crack the top 50 and go to the Masters.
 
There are a lot of ranking points available at this World Golf Championship, and even more at the Masters. And thats one way Europe will pick its Ryder Cup team. With all that pressure in mind, Monty was on the range Thursday morning when European captain Nick Faldo came by in black workout shorts and a black shirt.
 
Faldo stood behind Sergio Garcia, about four stations down from Montgomerie.
 
Monty would hit a few shots, then look over his shoulder at Faldo. He did this for about five minutes. Finally, Faldo looked over at the Scot and they made eye contact, and exchanged a few words.
 
Alas, Monty went 13 holes before making a birdie and shot 75. Only two players had a worse score.
 
CLUBS ARRIVE: Louis Oosthuizen arrived on Sunday for the CA Championship, although his clubs did not make it. He chipped and putted Monday'no clubs. He learned on Tuesday that he would be playing with Tiger Woods'no clubs.
 
Ping made him a replacement set Wednesday'still no clubs.
 
They finally arrived at 10 p.m. Wednesday, so the young South African had a security blanket for his first time in the U.S. spotlight. And he acquitted himself nicely until struggling down the stretch, taking double bogey on No. 17 with trouble in the rough and a three-putt from 20 feet. He wound up with a 74.
 
The highlight?
 
He hit his tee shot over the green on the 366-yard 16th, and got up-and-down for birdie.
 
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”