Els cruises to victory at Doral

By Doug FergusonMarch 15, 2010, 2:55 am

2010 WGC-CA Championship

DORAL, Fla. – For maybe the first time in his life, Charl Schwartzel found himself rooting against Ernie Els.

Els had a 25-foot par putt on the 14th green. Miss it, and he and Schwartzel – two South Africans, the final pair at the CA Championship – would be tied for the lead with four holes left. Make it, and Schwartzel would stay one shot behind the guy whose swing he tried to emulate for years.

“There’s always a turning point,” Schwartzel would say later.

Sure enough, that was it.

Els hit the par putt just hard enough to get it into the bottom of the cup, Schwartzel could only smile as he walked to the 15th tee, and he never had a good chance at catching his hero again. Els ended up running away to win the CA by four shots, finishing at 18-under 270 after a flawless final round of 66 at Doral.

“He’s still like a 15-year-old in my eyes,” the 40-year-old Els said of his 25-year-old playing partner Sunday. “He seems so young still. And he’s already got so much experience. But it just felt awkward. Him trying to win the golf tournament. I’m trying to win the golf tournament. I’m the old man. He’s the youngster. So it was a little different.”

Oh, but Els will take it.

He became only the fifth player with multiple victories in the World Golf Championships, joining Tiger Woods, Darren Clarke, Geoff Ogilvy and Phil Mickelson. It was his 61st victory worldwide, his 17th on the PGA Tour, and moved Els to No. 8 in the world ranking.

His fire is still roaring, too. Consider this nugget: A week ago, after finishing tied for 67th at the Honda Classic (a tournament for which Schwartzel, in somewhat baffling fashion, failed to qualify), Els didn’t go straight home from PGA National. He went to the nearby driving range at The Bear’s Club instead, and just before dark found something that worked.

Whatever it was, it worked wonders: Els was one of only three players with three rounds in the 60s at Doral, along with Alvaro Quiros and Paul Casey.

“I don’t think the motivation was lacking,” Els said. “I just think that I went about it the wrong way. You know, I was almost chasing my own tail a little bit. I was not looking after the smaller things. … I kind of let that all out of the window and I was going for the big prize. I was just not managing myself correctly.”

He managed Doral correctly, for sure. Els played his last 23 holes of the week without a bogey.

“All credit to Ernie,” Schwartzel said. “He played flawless golf.”

It was Els’ first win since the 2008 Honda Classic, and gave him a check for $1.4 million. Schwartzel earned $850,000, and moments after the final putt holed out, the winner let the kid – who stayed with Els at his South Florida home last week, and will stay with him again this coming week – know what the bigger consolation prize was.

“He’s got his tour card over here now,” Els said. “And now you guys can really see him in all his glory.”

Schwartzel caught a bad break on the 15th hole when his ball plugged in a front bunker, and he knocked that into a back bunker on his way to a crucial bogey. He missed short putts on the next two holes and closed with a 70.

They were chatty at times, which was expected. Els won a tournament playing alongside Schwartzel’s father more than 20 years ago, and Schwartzel said he learned to swing by watching a tape Els made. Walking up the fourth hole together, they talked and laughed as if it were a practice round, not the final pairing of a World Golf Championships event.

Els hit his tee shot there to 8 feet, the best at No. 4 all day. He made birdie.

“I think both of us were pretty focused,” Schwartzel said. “We were trying to win and you know, I felt like both of us really gave it our all. He just played a bit better.”

Matt Kuchar (68) finished seven shots behind Els, tied for third with Martin Kaymer (69) and Padraig Harrington (72), whose chances ended with three straight bogeys on the back nine.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson (68) was tied for 14th, 10 shots back.

“I’m doing the best I can. It just is not quite clicking on the course yet,” Mickelson said. “But it was a better round today. And it doesn’t feel as far off.”

Els left The Bear’s Club a week earlier saying the same.

Now he’s got a truckload of momentum as he heads to the Masters, and thinks he might be primed for a big year. With good reason, too – he has placed at least fourth on every course where this year’s majors will be played.

“I’m 40 years old. I’ve had a tough run,” Els said. “Whew! The hairs are standing up. It’s just great.”

TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.

 

-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.


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Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.

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DeChambeau gets foursomes, fourball mixed up

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Bryson DeChambeau is an accomplished player when it comes to match play, having captured the U.S. Amateur and starred on a Walker Cup team. But don’t ask him to explain the semantic difference between the formats in play at this week’s Ryder Cup.

DeChambeau became crossed up Tuesday at Le Golf National when he was asked about the intricacies of foursomes play – better known to many Americans as alternate shot.

“Fourball, foursomes, I always get those mixed up,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just easier for me to say alternate shot.”


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Thankfully for DeChambeau, he still has some time to make a distinction between the two before the matches begin in earnest. And when they do, it’ll be fourballs for the morning sessions both Friday and Saturday, with foursomes in the afternoon – a change from the 2016 matches when DeChambeau was on the grounds at Hazeltine as a spectator.

While the foursomes format brings with it added pressure in an already tense environment, one of the biggest concerns is how well players can adjust to using the ball of their partner on a given hole. DeChambeau is known to leave nothing to chance in his preparation, and he’s already circled that particular factor as he gets set to make his Ryder Cup debut.

“It’s key because we want to be comfortable. Each player needs to be comfortable with the ball that they are playing,” DeChambeau said. “So for compatibility reasons, it’s one of the most important things out there in regards to alternate shot. It is the most important.”