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Thread: PGA: Mercedes Championship (Maui, HI)

  1. #1
    The race is back! John's Avatar
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    PGA: Mercedes Championship (Maui, HI)

    First round leaders:

    1. Ernie Els -9 F
    1. Jim Furyk -9 F
    3. Jerry Kelly -8 F
    3. Chris Riley -8 F
    3. Gene Sauers -8 F
    6. Bob Estes -7 F
    6. Shigeki Maruyama -7 F
    8. K.J. Choi -6 F

    Furyk, Els share first-round lead in Hawaii

    Jan. 9, 2003
    GolfWeb Wire Services

    KAPALUA, Hawaii -- The PGA TOUR could not have asked for an easier start to the new season Thursday.

    With Tiger Woods some 5,000 miles away recovering from knee surgery and Kapalua practically defenseless in surprisingly calm conditions, Ernie Els and Jim Furyk led a first-round assault in the Mercedes Championships.

    Furyk made himself at home -- he finished his 9-under 64 just 300 yards away from his house -- by making an eagle and five putts longer than 15 feet. Furyk was tied for first in Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation after one round (stats powered by ShotLink).

    Els joined him in the lead by making two eagles and playing his final seven holes in 6-under par, recovering from a double bogey that kept him from setting the course record.

    "I was watching the board. Seemed like everybody was doing the same that I was doing," the Big Easy said. "It was a nice day for the guys out there."

    How nice?

    Only three players in the 36-man field of PGA TOUR winners were over par. More than half of the field were in the 60s, and the average score -- 69.31 -- was the lowest for any round in the five years that the Mercedes has been played at Kapalua.

    No one had to tell Furyk how easy it was.

    He just finished his second home this summer, played 27 holes during a visit to the Plantation Course in November, and he's the only guy who has played in all five season-opening tournaments since they moved to Kapalua in 1999.

    "About as good as it gets," he said. "The wind laid down for us today, made it possible to go out there and shoot low scores."

    Chris Riley and Gene Sauers each had a 65, two players more representative of this year's 36-man field at the winners-only Mercedes.

    Woods is not playing this year because of knee surgery last month, while second-ranked Phil Mickelson is taking time off. David Toms, Davis Love III and David Duval didn't win last year, so they didn't qualify.

    In their place are guys like Riley, who is among the 18 players who won for the first time on TOUR last year, and Sauers, who went 13 years between victories.

    They had never seen the Plantation Course, although they proved to be quick studies.

    "I didn't know what to expect, but I'm pretty happy with it," Riley said. "I don't know any other different conditions since this is my first time here."

    Jerry Kelly, who won his first PGA TOUR event at the Sony Open in Hawaii, also had a 65. Rookie of the year Jonathan Byrd and Luke Donald of England were in the group at 68.

    So benign were the conditions that six players making their Mercedes Championships debut were among the top 10.

    As if getting pampered at Kapalua wasn't enough.

    "I don't think I've ever seen it this calm," Els said. "When you get a day like today, you've got to take advantage."

    Most of the players did.

    PGA champion Rich Beem (74), Jose Maria Olazabal(74) and Len Mattiace (75) were the only players who failed to shoot par or better on what figures to be the easiest day of the tournament.

    "I told my caddie, 'We'd better get going early because I don't know if we'll have another day like this,'" Els said.

    Els didn't carry out his plan to perfection.

    A tap-in birdie on the 484-yard seventh hole pushed him to 4 under for the round, only that didn't last long. He tried to fade a 6-iron to the flag on the par-3 eighth, but he held onto the club too long, and the ball went down the hill left into the hazard.

    It was similar to the mistake he made at Muirfield on the 16th, which also led to a double bogey and nearly cost him the British Open .

    Just like then, Els recovered.

    He birdied the next hole, then really turned it loose on the back nine, belting his driver with confidence and setting up short birdie putts. He hit 7-iron for his second shot on 555-yard 15th hole to 15 feet for his second eagle of the round (stats powered by ShotLink).

    Els is due a victory at Kapalua.

    He had a chance three years ago against Woods, when both eagled the 18th, birdied the 18th in a playoff and Woods finally won with a 40-foot birdie on the second playoff hole.

    Els also had control in 2001, but instead watched Furyk -- his playing partner in the final round -- hole critical putts to win.

    Furyk also won at Kapalua during the challenge season in 1995, and he has never finished lower than ninth in five years at the Mercedes.

    He wasted no time moving to the top this year, hitting a 4-wood off the tee at No. 9 and another 4-wood to 15 feet for eagle. Furyk made five other putts of at least 15 feet, including the 40-footer on No. 17.

    "It was a good start to the year, good start to this week, and hopefully I'll keep it up," Furyk said.

    Divots:

    •Rookie-of-the-year winner Jonathan Byrd hit the first shot of the 2003 season, a driver that split the middle on the opening hole. "I still had a 4-iron left to the green," he said.

    •Chris Riley and his caddie have a traditional wager -- the caddie pays him $25 every time Riley plays a bogey-free round. "It turns into bigger money for him when he gets the percentage check at the end of the week," Riley said.

    •Defending champion Sergio Garcia opened with a 71, which is still better than his opening round (73) last year.

  2. #2
    Watch me unravel stepscot's Avatar
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    Anybody know what's up with Phil taking some time off? He's not injured or anything, is he?
    Let us all bask in television's warm glowing warming glow. --Homer Simpson

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    Starbucks is your friend Bill's Avatar
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    They didn't speculate on it during the ESPN broadcast last night. Just said he didn't chose to play.

    Phil has always been a guy with more to his life than golf, and frankly if I had his money and a wife that looked like his does, I think I would blow off a few tourney's now and again.
    "George Oscar Bluth II, aka GOB, featured magician in the best selling videotape, "Girls With Low Self Esteem" invites you to enter his world.
    -- Arrested Development, Season III

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    The race is back! John's Avatar
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    If I had a wife like he has, I'd be quitting golf, taking my millions and winning my own kind of Major, if you know what I mean

    The reason Phil's not playing is because he is expecting the birth of their new baby any day, and he didn't want to be an 8-hour flight away from the hospital.

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    Starbucks is your friend Bill's Avatar
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    As far as the scores for this tournament go, it was clear that the wind was down and those Hawaiian courses are dry, so without the wind, these guys can kill the ball off the tee.
    "George Oscar Bluth II, aka GOB, featured magician in the best selling videotape, "Girls With Low Self Esteem" invites you to enter his world.
    -- Arrested Development, Season III

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    Scores after two rounds:

    1 Ernie Els -17
    2 Bob Estes -14
    3 K.J. Choi -12
    T4 Retief Goosen -11
    T4 Jerry Kelly -11
    T4 Chris Riley -11
    T7 Ian Leggatt -10
    T7 Jim Furyk -10
    T9 Kevin Sutherland -9
    T9 Jonathan Byrd -9
    T9 Gene Sauers -9

    Els conquers par 5s to grab lead in Hawaii
    Jan. 10, 2003
    GolfWeb Wire Services

    KAPALUA, Hawaii -- The sun was setting over the island of Lanai as Ernie Els capped off another great round in paradise, holing a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in the Mercedes Championships to set a tournament record and build a three-stroke lead.

    Now comes the hard part for the Big Easy.

    Two years ago, he took a four-stroke lead into the week at Kapalua only to crumble with the worst score of the third round. The year before that, he was the supporting role in a sensational duel with Tiger Woods.

    This might be his best chance yet.

    Els continued his assault on the par 5s and shot an 8-under 65 on Friday. He broke the 36-hole tournament record at 129, and wound up three shots clear of Bob Estes.

    "The last two times here, I just got beat," Els said. "I've got to be watching out for them again the next couple of days. Low numbers are to be made out there. These guys can do it. By the same token, I like playing this golf course.

    "I really feel like the season is right there for me. Might as well make a good start to it."

    So far, no complaints.

    Not with his new Titleist equipment, which he only started using in the last month.

    Not with the weather, which has been ideal for two days.

    And certainly not with his results.

    "I feel I'm right there," he said. "The last two days, I played pretty well. I'm right where I want to be."

    Estes didn't mind his position, either. He hasn't made a bogey in two trips around the Plantation Course at Kapalua, and shot his second straight 66 to earn a spot in the final pairing with Els.

    It was a minor miracle he wasn't worse off.

    He thought his drive on No. 7 went out of bounds, but marshals found it 20 yards away in the rough. He hit 5-iron onto the green, then made a 60-foot putt that was going so fast it might have rolled into the Pacific had the cup not been in the way.

    "I could have made a 6 or a 7 on that hole, and ended up making a 3," Estes said. "That was kind of the turning point in the round."

    K.J. Choi of South Korea, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR last year, had his second straight 67 and was alone in third at 134, followed by the trio of Retief Goosen (65), Jerry Kelly (70) and Chris Riley (70).

    Riley and Els appeared to separate themselves from the pack by matching great shots on another tame day along the rugged and spectacular coastline of western Maui.

    Riley played in the group ahead of Els, and chipped in from just about the same spot on the par-5 ninth for eagle, putting him at 13 under and momentarily in the lead.

    But he couldn't keep pace.

    Riley hit into the hazard twice on par 5s, taking a double bogey on No. 15 and a bogey on the final hole, both times missing short putts.

    He still was 3 under for the day, although much more was expected on another ideal day for scoring with hardly any wind, the only white caps in the Pacific made by occasional frolicking by the humpback whales.

    Jim Furyk couldn't keep up with Els, either.

    He started the second round tied for the lead, but bogeyed the second hole and never got going. Furyk finished with a 72, and was at 136 with Ian Leggatt of Canada.

    With 36 holes remaining -- and Tiger Woods nowhere to be found, back in Florida recovering from knee surgery -- everything is going Els' way.

    "It's not the easiest thing to go to sleep on a lead every night," Els said. "You feel like you want to keep going."

    Nobody knows that better than Els, especially at Kapalua.

    He was running away with the Mercedes two years ago until a bad swing spooked him on No. 12, and he proceeded to hit into the hazard on the remaining par 5s. He lost his composure, lost the lead and eventually lost the tournament.

    "I think the test for me now is just to be patient and play my shots," he said. "Let's see what happens tomorrow. I want to play each shot as good as I can. We'll count them up, hopefully to a nice number."

    Els did a number on the 36-man field of winners only, especially on the par 5s.

    He easily cleared the gorge on No. 5 with a 5-iron to set up a routine birdie. His 7-iron rolled back off the green at No. 9, but he solved that by chipping in. He reached the 15th green with a 3-iron for another two-putt birdie, and had to scramble at the end.

    His drive wound up in the rough, the ball slightly above his feet. Els' 4-iron came up short, but stayed in the fairway just long enough to set up a simple pitch to 5 feet. Through two rounds, Els is 11 under on par 5s (stats powered by ShotLink).

    It wasn't that simple for everyone else.

    Matt Gogel and Chris DiMarco each had 75, the only players who failed to shoot par or better. Still, everyone was under par after 36 holes.

    Defending champion Sergio Garcia had it particularly tough, especially with his putting. He missed a few short ones again, and tossed his putter at his bag in disgust at No. 11.

    The putter bent at the shaft just enough to make it non-conforming, meaning he could no longer use it. Instead, he tried an 8-iron and a 3-wood before settling on a sand wedge to hit his putts the rest of the round.


    He wound up with a 73 and was 15 strokes out of the lead.

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    Scores after three rounds, coming into the final day of play:

    1 Ernie Els -25
    2 Kyoung-Ju Choi -23
    3 Retief Goosen -18
    T4 Bob Estes -17
    T4 Jerry Kelly -17
    T4 Chris Riley -17
    7 James Furyk -16
    T8 Loren Roberts -14
    T8 Vijay Singh -14
    T10 Charles Howell III -13
    T10 Rocco Mediate -13
    T10 Gene Sauers -13

    Slip leaves Els in shootout

    by DOUG FERGUSON, Associated Press

    KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) -- Ernie Els was in control and on top of his game when he stood on the 17th tee Saturday, five strokes clear of K.J. Choi with nothing but green grass and the brilliant blue of the Pacific Ocean on the horizon.

    One bad swing -- and a record round by Choi -- was all it took for Els to go from a runaway in the Mercedes Championships to a shootout he didn't want.

    ``I did just about everything right,'' Els said after his 8-under 65, which tied a 37-year-old record on the PGA Tour and put several other records in reach.

    The one mistake cost him.

    Els leaned on his bag at the 486-yard 17th, wanting to hit driver but opting instead for the 3-wood. He swung at it too hard and hooked it into the hazard, turning away before it finished its flight.

    ``Probably should have stuck to my guns, but we're all human,'' Els said.

    Els and Choi played like they were from another planet.

    The South Korean birdied the 18th for a course-record 62, and when Els failed to birdie the par-5 finishing hole, the five-stroke lead was down to two.

    ``It makes a bit of a change,'' Els said. ``In another way, it makes me focus differently. I don't have to protect. I have to be aggressive.''

    The day wasn't a total loss.

    Despite the sloppy finish, Els was at 25-under 194 and tied the PGA Tour record in relation to par for 54 holes. Gay Brewer also had a 25-under through three rounds at the 1967 Pensacola Open, a tournament that no longer exists.

    Choi made a 10-foot birdie on the 18th to break by one the record previously held by Mike Weir and David Duval. More importantly, it gave him a fighting chance.

    ``I thought there was a bit of gap between me and Els,'' Choi said. ``I just said, ``Try my best today, try my best tomorrow, and we'll see where that takes me.'''

    Els missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the final hole the first time all week he hasn't made at least a birdie on the par 5s.

    And it set the stage for what could be quite a duel Sunday at Kapalua.

    Three years ago, Els went toe-to-toe with Tiger Woods in the final round, losing on the second hole of the playoff.

    Even Woods, who is out for the first five weeks recovering from knee surgery, might not be able to hang with these two, who appear to be in midseason form.

    Els and Choi will have a couple of other records within reach Sunday. The tournament record is 26-under 266, set by Duval in 1999. The PGA Tour record in relation to par is 28-under, set two years ago by Mark Calcavecchia in the Phoenix Open.

    Better yet, no one else is in sight.

    Former U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen had a 66, but was only at 201, seven strokes out of the lead.

    Bob Estes (70), Chris Riley (67) and Jerry Kelly (67) were another stroke back.

    Choi would have been a long shot to win in his first trip to Kapalua except for Els' mistakes over the final two holes.

    The big South African was crushing his driver to places rarely visited on the Plantation Course, giving himself plenty of looks at birdie and making most of his putts.

    He started to pull away on the 305-yard 14th hole after hitting his driver left of the green in thick rough, facing a steep bunker and only about 12 feet of green to the flag. Els hit a perfect flop shot that rolled into the cup for an eagle.

    It was his fourth eagle of the tournament, after making only six last year.

    ``I've hit it there three times. I should know that shot by now,'' he said with a grin as he walked to the 15th tee.

    Els followed that with a drive that reached the bottom of the hill on the par-5 15th, measuring close to 400 yards and setting up a routine birdie. Another big drive led to a chip that hopped once and stopped 6 inches from the cup to go to 27-under.

    Then, it all came undone.

    ``I wanted to hit driver, but I spoke myself into a 3-wood,'' Els said. ``Just basically played the hole bad. It was a mental error.''

    It was one he couldn't afford, not with Choi having his way at Kapalua.

    The South Korean, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour last year, played in the group ahead of Els, so the Big Easy was aware of his move. This was no time to take in the spectacular views from Maui, or gaze at the dozen surfers below.

    ``I just kept going, hole to hole,'' Choi said. ``The best score has a good chance.''

    It will be Els' third chance at winning. Along with losing the great duel with Woods in 2000, the following year Els had a four-stroke lead at the turn in the third round before he chopped up the par 5s, lost the lead and never recovered.

    Despite the poor finish, Els came away believing it was still his tournament to win.

    After all, he tied the 54-hole record on tour. He has played brilliant for 52 holes over three days. And he's still in the lead.

    ``It will be a pretty good shootout,'' Els said. ``I'm sure he's going to come after me.''

  8. #8
    plaisirs volatils raindance's Avatar
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    I'm so disgusted. Where is Sergio Garcia!
    “In Rrrussia, vee have proverb: Only bad soliders don’t vant to be general.” Sasha Pivovarova

  9. #9
    Starbucks is your friend Bill's Avatar
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    Originally posted by raindance
    I'm so disgusted. Where is Sergio Garcia!
    Sergio had a very rough first two days (especially relative to the field), but he came back with a respectable 66 yesterday, and should finish in the upper middle pack.
    "George Oscar Bluth II, aka GOB, featured magician in the best selling videotape, "Girls With Low Self Esteem" invites you to enter his world.
    -- Arrested Development, Season III

  10. #10
    plaisirs volatils raindance's Avatar
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    That's good to hear.
    “In Rrrussia, vee have proverb: Only bad soliders don’t vant to be general.” Sasha Pivovarova

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