Ernie by 13 Is That Good

By George WhiteMay 3, 2005, 4:00 pm
Well, what do we make of Ernie Els this time? He won a tournament in um, in Shanghai. Oh ' and did I say win? It was domination, as total and thorough as is humanly possible. No one came within 13 strokes of him.
Herein lies the problem with Western civilization and many of Ernies conquests ' he goes about as far away as possible to win sometimes. He also wins his fair share in the U.S. (two U.S. Opens) and Europe (a British Open). But when the venue is the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club ' well, we're just flying blind when we try to come to grips with what this win really means.
Ernie Els
Ernie Els has 3 European Tour wins so far in 2005.
Els winning by 13? Should we strike up the band and have some sort of proclamation? Or should we merely assume that is was just another victory halfway around the world?
Methinks there really should be the proclamation. Perhaps it's just our American prejudice when we tend to look down our noses at an overwhelming win such as this. There were some pretty good players who were in this field.
K.J. Choi was there from the U.S. tour, as well as Paul Casey. Thomas Bjorn, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Colin Montgomerie, Michael Campbell, Peter OMalley, Nick Faldo, Alex Cjeka, Peter Senior all were there. Els didnt win against a field of sherpas ' indeed, there were just about as many recognizable names there as there was in New Orleans.
Ernie was chugging along nicely when he was playing in the States, too, by the way. The first three tournaments, he finished T3, 2nd, T6th. But then he fell overboard, finally finishing 47th in his last appearance in these parts ' the Masters.
So, he tweaked the ol swing a little. And ' voila ' a 13-stroke win! At least we think, voila.
He says the 47th at the Masters did it. He decided to make some changes before the slide went too far. He tied for sixth two weeks ago the first time he tried it - at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Beijing, when he admitted he didnt quite trust the new moves. Last week, though, he just obliterated the field, starting with a second-round 62.
'I'm a little surprised it came so fast,' said Els. 'But I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do and the changes made it a little easier to focus.'
He said going back to the Ernie of old, instead of barging in for a totally new swing, was really beneficial.

One thing which really helped was when David Leadbetter sent me some pictures from when I was swinging really well, said Els on his website Monday. I was able to study those images and pick out the things I wasnt doing quite so well; basic stuff like posture and ball position.
After a week this week at home outside London, Els returns to the U.S. the following week for the EDS Byron Nelson. He will be in America for a month, then head east to Europe. But he is excited to see where his swing changes will take him.

This is a great confidence booster for me,' he said.
'My goal this year is definitely to win a major, but I've got to take small steps like I did this week and hopefully it will lead to big wins.'
Els won twice earlier on the European Tour, in Dubai and Qatar, but there was still some question of how good the fields were. Then came the runaway last week, and Els is convinced, even if some other observers arent quite yet certain.
One facet that Ernie was particularly proud of last weekend was his composure while protecting his big advantage.
I've been around for quite awhile and experience has helped me having big leads,' said Els, who resumed with an eight-stroke lead after completing six holes in fading light on Sunday.
'It's not the easiest thing in the world. Your mind can wander, but you can't be afraid. It's a good test of character.'
The question still remains, why does Ernie do this? The citizen of South Africa insists it is because he considers himself a world player. Cynics have suggested it is because of the handsome appearance fees he commands, plus it might be easier to ring up wins at some of the venues he plays.
The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. No doubt he considers himself a world player, but an appearance fee of $500k to $1 million certainly makes up for a lot of lost income. The BMW Asian paid Els the equivalent of a little more than $245,000. Tim Petrovic earned $990,000 for his win at New Orleans. But when you factor in Els appearance fee, the final payout may have been roughly the same. So Els isnt penalized too much by playing in the out-of-the-way places.
What could Els be if he confined himself to playing primarily in the United States? Heaven only knows. But if this swing change thing is as positive in the future as it was last week, he may not need the U.S. He will be a jillionaire regardless.
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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.