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A Dull Big Match

Posted March. 23, 2003 22:26,   


The points of interests for the U.S. PGA Tour Bay Hill Invitational (4.5 million dollars in total prize money) were 2.

The one is whether the ‘Emperor of Golf’ Tiger Woods (USA) can accomplish 4 consecutive championships for a single tournament or not, and the other is the first stroke match-up with the ‘Prince’ Ernie Els (South Africa).

The result was practically decided in the 3rd round held at Bay Hill Golf Course (par 72) in Orlando, Florida on the 23rd and didn’t need to go to the final 4th round. Woods reduced 5 more shots in the remaining holes of the 2nd round (11 holes) and entered the 3 round as the sole leader (9 under par, 135 shots).

The 3rd round playing partner of Woods happened to be Els. He was one of three 3rd place runners (5 under par, 139 shots), but recorded a tie for the daily best (7 under par, 65 shots), so he faced Woods at the ‘log bridge.’

The match-up between the two world stars, where concerns of all golf fans around the world were focused, was duly finished with a sure victory of Woods early in the round.

Woods, who was in high spirits by collecting 4 birdies in the last four hole of 2nd round, broke Els` will by collecting 4 birdies in 6 holes of the 3rd round. Els, who committed the second bogey of the round at the 6th hole, made the 4th bogie at the 14th hole and collapsed.

After 3 rounds, Woods, who did 29 holes of golf, is the sole leader by 5 strokes (15 under par, 201 shots). Els is tied for 11th place (5 under par, 211 shots) with as many as 10 strokes behind.

Els admitted his defeat by saying, “Woods seems to enjoy the game with me. He’s still the man.”

Woods, who debuted as a pro in 1996, won all the tournaments that he started the final round as sole leader by at least one stroke. He missed only one tournament out of 29 that he started the final round as a co-leader at least. If things stay as they are, the sole 2nd place runner Brad Faxon (USA) cannot be a rival of Woods.

Faxon matched up with Woods at the Buick Invitational last month as the sole 2nd place runner by one stroke, but he suffered a complete defeat by 5 stokes.

If Woods wins this tournament, he will become the first player to win the same tournament four straight times since Gene Sarazen (Miami Open) did it 73 years ago.

Meanwhile, Choi Kyong-joo (Superior, Talyormade) entered the final round as a tie for 36th place (1 under par, 215 shots) by collecting an eagle at the 12th hole (par 5).

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com