Els Just Two Back in South Africa

By Sports NetworkDecember 10, 2005, 5:00 pm
European TourNELSPRUIT, South Africa -- Ulrich Van den Berg fired a 7-under 65 on Saturday to grab a two-stroke lead after three rounds of the dunhill championship. Van den Berg completed 54 holes at 12-under-par 204.
 
Ernie Els, a three-time winner of this event, posted a 4-under 68 to climb into second place at 10-under-par 206. Els is playing for just the second time since injuring his knee in late July.
 
Charl Schwartzel, the defending champion, moved into a tie for third with a 2-under 70. He was joined at 9-under-par 207 by Louis Oosthuizen (71). Jaco Van Zyl is one stroke further back at minus-8 after a third-round 69.
 
The tournament is back on track as the second and third rounds were completed on Saturday. Action was delayed Thursday for over two hours causing things to be pushed back. Sunday will have players teeing off split tees with the threat of more bad weather Sunday afternoon.
 
Oosthuizen was the early leader with an eagle and two birdies over the first six holes at Leopard Creek Country Club. However, he fell off the pace as he played the final 12 holes in plus-3.
 
Van den Berg birdied the par-5 second to get going. He stuck his approach within 3 feet at the third for another birdie.
 
The South African tripped to a bogey on the par-3 fifth, but quickly erased that mistake. Van den Berg eagled the short par-4 sixth to jump to minus-8.
 
Van den Berg kept rolling around the turn with a birdie on No. 10. He knocked his approach inside three feet to setup birdie on the par-3 12th.
 
The 30-year-old made it two in a row as he rolled in a 5-foot birdie effort on 13 and that birdie gave him the out-right lead. Van den Berg two-putted the par-5 15th for birdie to get to 12 under. He parred his final three holes to remain there.
 
Van den Berg will go for his first win on Sunday. If he is successful, he will be the seventh straight first-time winner at this event.
 
'It's going to be a tough day,' Van den Berg said of Sunday. 'But I've been working hard for this. I've been killing myself in the gym one hour a day six days a week. I've also been through a bit of personal drama and everything feels like it's falling into place now. But I can't worry about Ernie or think about all that comes with a win. I've just got to go about my business.'
 
Els parred his first seven holes before dropping a shot at the eighth to slide to minus-five. The back nine was a different story though. He birdied the 10th and 12th to start making his move up the leaderboard.
 
The 36-year-old birdied the 15th to get to 8 under. Els finished his round with an eagle on the par-5 closing hole to end at minus-10.
 
'I was putting terribly at the Nedbank Golf Challenge last week,' Els said. 'This week, I've just been trying to feel my way back into the putting and trying everything. It came together on those last five holes and hopefully I can keep the rhythm going.'
 
Keith Horne matched the low round of the day with his 7-under 65. That moved him into a sixth place tie at 7-under-par 209. He was joined there by Titch Moore (73), Christian L. Nilsson (70), Doug McGuigan (72) and Alan Michell (71). Phillip Archer, Mattias Eliasson, Sean Farrell and James Kingston are one stroke further back at minus-6.
 
Second-round leader Michiel Bothma struggled to a 4-over 76. Bothma, who was battling a bout of the flu on Friday, carded one birdie, one bogey and three double bogeys to drop to 3-under-par 213.
 
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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.


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    Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

    Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

    But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

    Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

    “It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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    After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

    In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

    No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

    Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

    “I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

    Let it go.

    Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

    “I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

    It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

    During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

    Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

    “It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

    McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

    It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

    “I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

    The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

    Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

    The only thing left to do?

    Let it go.

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    Z. Johnson may have to pay for the jet home

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 1:23 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Zach Johnson will have some bragging rights when he gets back to the ultimate golf frat house on Friday after a second-round 67 moved him into the lead at The Open.

    Johnson is rooming with Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler this week at Carnoustie. It’s a tradition that began two years ago at Royal Troon.

    Kisner joked on Thursday after he took the first-round lead that the perks for the house/tournament front-runner were limited: “I probably get to eat first,” he said.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    There is, however, one running wager.

    “Two years ago we, I don't know if you call it bet, but agreement that, if you win, you get the jet and you buy it, so we go home,” said Johnson, who added that because of varying travel arrangements, the wager might not be needed this year. “I didn't pay last year. Somebody else did.”

    Spieth won last year’s championship at Royal Birkdale.

    Despite the expense, Johnson said he didn’t know how much it costs to charter a private flight back to the United States, but it’s a good problem to have.

    “I’d be happy to fork it over,” he smiled.