Star-Bulletin Sports


Monday, January 10, 2000



Associated Press
Tiger Woods reacts on the 18th green of the Plantation
Course after making an eagle putt to force a playoff with
Ernie Els during the final round of the Mercedes
Championships.



Tiger’s beat
goes on

He claims his fifth straight
PGA Tour title in a spectacular
shootout with Ernie Els

Defending champ couldn’t make run
Final round leaders
Championship to finish 2001 season
Mercedes Notebook

By Bill Kwon
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

KAPALUA, Maui - You hate to call it golf's Duel of the Century, considering it's just the first tournament of the Year 2000.

But what else can you call yesterday's dramatic finish to the Mercedes Championships that opened the PGA Tour season as Tiger Woods defeated Ernie Els on the second playoff hole?

Woods made it five straight victories - four dating back to the close of last year - with a spectacular eagle-birdie-birdie finish as he and Els finished with rounds of 5-under 68 and a 72-hole total of 276 at the Plantation Course before a large gallery estimated at 8,000.

"He's a legend in the making, if not already," said Els. "At 24, he's probably going to be bigger than Elvis when he gets into his 40s."

"At least I took him to extra time," added Els, who covered Woods' eagle-3 at the 663-yard 18th hole with one of his own to force the playoff.


Associated Press
Tiger Woods, left, and Ernie Els shake hands on
the 18th green of the Plantation Course after they
both made eagle putts to force a playoff.



They both birdied the first playoff hole, the par-5 18th, with Woods this time having to cover Els by sinking a clutch 10-footer.

Woods then rolled in a 35-foot birdie putt at the next playoff hole, the 473-yard, par-4 No. 1. Els left his 30-foot try two feet short, ending the torrid, head-to-head duel between two great players delivering great shots when they had to.

"The putt he made there (on the second playoff hole) was quite unexpected. The one on 18 wasn't," Els said about Tiger's two clutch putts on the playoff holes. "Winning is kind of a habit for him right now."

"It was just a great fight between the both of us," said Woods, who also won this event in a playoff over Tom Lehman in 1997 when it was held at the La Costa.

"We both played beautifully," added Woods, who became the first player to win in five consecutive starts since Ben Hogan in 1948. It's also the 12th straight tournament that Woods has won after leading, or being tied for the lead, going into the final round.

The victory was worth $522,000 and a Mercedes automobile to Woods, who set a PGA single-season money record of $6.6 million last year. Els, who now heads to the Sony Open this week at the Waialae Country Club, picked up $313,000.


Associated Press
Ernie Els holds up his ball after making a birdie on the
second green of the Plantation Course to take a one stroke
lead over Tiger Woods during the final round of the
Mercedes Championships. The two tied after 72
holes before Woods won in a playoff.



"It's a good start for the year," said Els. "I mean, I played well. But, you know, when you feel like you're playing better than the other guy, and he still beats you, you've got to ask yourself a question here and there."

"No doubt about it," said Woods, when asked if Els played the better of the two yesterday. "I just made more putts at the right time."

And Els, except for that eagle at the regulation 18th, didn't. Els, who only had one bogey and one double bogey over 74 holes, lipped out birdie putts of 4 and 10 feet at the par-4 14th and 16th holes, respectively.

"Against a guy like Tiger, you need to make those putts," said Els, who wound up in the same twosome for the final three rounds.

"The more I play with him in this kind of situation, the better it is for me the next time," he added. "I'm looking forward to the next time."

It won't be this week at Waialae, as Woods is heading home for a break and to reset his golf swing. He never stops working on his game.

"I'll be here next year, though," said Woods. After all, he's now the new Mercedes defending champion, having unseated last year's winner, David Duval, who closed with a 68 yesterday to claim third place with a 12-under 280 and $197,000.

Jim Furyk, who hit the jackpot in back-to-back victories in the Las Vegas Invitational to qualify here for the second year in a row, finished in a tie for fourth with Mike Weir at 285. Furyk shot a final-round 69, while Weir closed with a 67, thanks to five straight birdies from holes 11 through 15.

Paraguayan Carlos Franco, the 1999 PGA Tour rookie of the year, shot the final day's best round, 6-under-66, to finish at 287, along with first-round leader Jesper Parnevik.

"I had plenty of chances for birdies and am a little frustrated that I could have made even a couple more. Starting off this season playing well like I did, obviously gives me more confidence that I have an opportunity to win another tournament sometime soon," said Franco, who won twice last year to qualify for the winners-only event here.

Who knows?

He's one of 20 players in the Mercedes field playing in the Sony Open in Hawaii, the PGA Tour's first full-field event of the year, starting at the Waialae Country Club Thursday.

Parnevik finished with a 71 but lost ground by bogeying both birdieable par-5 holes on the back, Nos. 15 and that 18th which both Woods and Els had eagled to send their head-to-head duel into sudden-death playoff.


Defending champ
couldn’t make run

By Paul Arnett
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

David Duval stopped signing autographs long enough to acknowledge Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, who had just finished regulation with back-to-back eagles to extend the $2.9 million Mercedes Championships into sudden-death.

The defending Mercedes champion nodded his head at Woods as he headed toward the scorer's table, then gave a thumbs-up sign to Els. The South African returned Duval's gesture with a small smile as if he knew he were about to be involved in something special.

Both golfers birdied the first extra hole. Woods won it, however, by sinking a 35-footer for birdie on the second hole. Els' 30-footer died short of the hole.

"That's some kind of finish,'' the reserved Duval said after hearing how the two golfers played the 72nd hole of competition. "It would have been nice for me to be in there with them.''

Duval entered yesterday's final round four shots off the pace set by Els and Woods. The second-ranked player in the world believed if he could get it going early, he might be able to put a little heat on the final twosome.

But it wasn't meant to be.

The man who blistered this course last year to win with a 26-under-par 266 total, bogeyed the second hole and was never able to draw any closer than three shots at the 14th.

Had Duval not struggled through the first two rounds to a 1-under 145, perhaps his final two rounds of 67 and 68 would have been good enough for a second consecutive Mercedes crown.

""I just wanted to give myself a chance to win after the third round and I did that,'' Duval said. "I had a couple of chances on the back nine to get into title contention, but I hurt myself on the 15th.''

For the second time in three days, Duval hit his second shot at the par-5 15th into the tall grass on the left side of the fairway. He bogeyed it on Friday and made a 12-footer to save par yesterday, but that wasn't good enough to keep pace with the leaders.

"Still, I'm pleased with how I played the final two rounds,'' Duval said of the 11-under effort over the weekend. "I'll take this week off, relax a little bit snow boarding, then come back to defend at the (Bob) Hope (Desert Classic) the following week. Finishing third in a good field like this one isn't a bad way to start off the new year.''

Duval pockets $197,000 for placing third, five strokes ahead of Mike Weir and Jim Furyk, who finished tied for fourth. Last year, he earned $3.6 million to finish second to Woods on the money list, who made $6.6 million.

"Had I made a few more putts over the first two rounds, who knows what might have happened,'' said Duval, who was one of only three players to post four consecutive rounds at or under par. "I wish I could have started as quickly today as I did on Saturday. It took me a while to start making some birdies and by then, it was too late.''


Mercedes Championships

At Kapalua, Maui

Final round leaders, par-73

x-Won on second hole of playoff

x-Tiger Woods, $522,000 -- 71-66-71-68--276
Ernie Els, $313,000 -- 71-70-67-68--276
David Duval, $197,000 -- 72-73-67-68--280
Mike Weir, $127,500 -- 76-73-69-67--285
Jim Furyk, $127,500 -- 72-73-71-69--285
Carlos Franco, $100,500 -- 78-73-70-66--287
Jesper Parnevik, $100,500 -- 69-74-73-71--287
Glen Day, $79,000 -- 74-75-69-71--289
Vijay Singh, $79,000 -- 73-77-67-72--289
Paul Lawrie, $79,000 -- 76-73-68-72--289
Tom Pernice Jr., $79,000 -- 75-76-65-73--289
Brad Faxon, $79,000 -- 72-76-68-73--289
Brent Geiberger, $79,000 -- 73-73-67-76--289
Jeff Sluman, $70,000 -- 72-72-74-72--290
Stuart Appleby, $68,000 -- 73-76-70-72--291
Rocco Mediate, $65,000 -- 79-73-73-68--293
Jeff Maggert, $65,000 -- 80-72-69-72--293
Steve Elkington, $62,000 -- 76-74-71-73--294
David Toms, $59,000 -- 75-75-74-71--295
Duffy Waldorf, $59,000 -- 70-76-72-77--295
Olin Browne, $55,000 -- 77-75-74-70--296
Hal Sutton, $55,000 -- 77-73-74-72--296
Ted Tryba, $51,000 -- 80-70-73-74--297
Tim Herron, $51,000 -- 74-71-75-77--297
Notah Begay III, $48,000 -- 73-79-73-73--298
Gabriel Hjertstedt, $47,000 -- 78-74-73-76--301
Brian Henninger, $46,250 -- 77-78-75-73--303
J.L. Lewis, $46,250 -- 78-81-70-74--303
Loren Roberts, $45,500 -- 76-80-73-75--304
Rich Beem, $45,000 -- 84-77-76-70--307

Tiger's run

1999

Since June of last year, Tiger Woods has won nine of 12 events he has entered.

Date -- Event -- Finish

June 6 -- Memorial Tournament -- 1
June 20 -- U.S. Open Championship -- T3
July 4 -- Motorola Western Open -- 1
July 18 -- British Open Championship -- T7
Aug. 15 -- PGA Championship -- 1
Aug. 22 -- Sprint International -- T37
Aug. 29 -- NEC Invitational -- 1
Oct. 24 -- National Car Rental Golf Classic -- 1
Oct. 31 -- THE TOUR Championship -- 1
Nov. 7 -- American Express Championship -- P1
No. 21 -- *The World Cup of Golf -- T1

2000

Jan. 9 -- Mercedes Championships -- P1

* - Unofficial event. P - Won in playoff.


Tour Championship
to finish 2001 season

Associated Press

Tapa

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- The Tour Championship will return to its traditional place on the schedule as the final official event of the PGA Tour in 2001, commissioner Tim Finchem said yesterday in announcing minor changes to the World Golf Championship series.

The Tour Championship, for only the top 30 on the money list, had been the final event since its inception in 1987.

That changed a year ago when the American Express Championship, the last of three $5 million WGC events, was played at Valderrama in southern Spain a week after the Tour Championship.

It also came a week after the Volvo Masters, the traditional season-ender on the European tour. Players on both sides of the Atlantic complained, saying that an American could decide the winner of European money list, and vice-versa.

"It allows us to bring an end to the World Golf Championship series in a more definable way," Finchem said. "I think that was borne out that week. It makes sense to leave the season finale to the Tour Championship, which seems to have gotten more and more strength to it."

The American Express Championship, for the top 50 in the world and the leaders on five world tour's money lists, will follow the Tour Championship again this year.

Finchem said the 2001 American Express will be played in the United States sometime in September, sandwiched around the Ryder Cup in England. The tournament alternates between America and Europe.

Empty table

The empty table set aside for players at the front of the ball room spoke volumes about the PGA Tour's problem getting them to attend its annual awards dinner. If they don't win, they won't come.

Never mind that it was held at the Ritz Carlton, where most players are staying this week.

Only 11 players in the field of 30 attended the dinner Saturday night, and five of them were either receiving awards or introducing award-winners. One player, asked if he was going, shrugged and said, "I didn't win anything, did I?"

Lots of green

For some perspective on the generous size of the fairways on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, consider No. 7. It measures close to 90 yards wide, which is enough to hold four fairways from Carnoustie.



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