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Star-Bulletin Sports

Saturday, January 13, 2001

H A W A I I _ G O L F

Associated Press
Ernie Els will try to pad his four-shot lead today.

Els’ lead:
big, not easy

He fires a 66 to head into
third round with a four-shot lead;
Tiger falls nine strokes back

Mercedes Hawaii

Tradewinds or not, Furyk's fire burns

By Bill Kwon

KAPALUA, Maui -- Even when he's nine strokes up on Tiger Woods, Ernie Els can't help but look over his shoulder or at the scoreboard to see how Tiger's doing.

Known as "The Big Easy" for his fluid swing, Els scorched the Plantation Course for seven birdies to post a near-perfect 66 yesterday and a 36-hole score of 134 for a four-stroke lead going into today's third round of the Mercedes Championships.

"It's nice to know there's a separation, a four-shot lead over three guys," said the two-time U.S. Open champion. And Els was also well aware that he was nine ahead of Woods, the defending champion who beat him in a playoff here last year.

"Obviously, you need to know where Tiger is. You need to know what you have to do," Els said. "The scoreboards are there. You might as well look at them. You need to know what's going on."

The three guys tied for second at 138 are Masters champion Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Rory Sabbatini. Furyk shot a second straight 69 and was the only player without a bogey in 36 holes.

Rocco Mediate, Michael Clark II and Billy Andrade are next at 139.

Those in a five-way tie at 140 included Sony Open champion Paul Azinger and Justin Leonard, the first-round leader who shot 73 yesterday.

"Zinger" shot a 6-under 31 on the back nine.

Associated Press
Tiger Woods watches his ball land on the green after
blasting out of the rough on the third hole yesterday.

Jesper Parnevik matched Els' 66 for the best round of the day, a 10-shot swing from his opening 76.

But it's still Tiger on everyone's mind, including Els.

Woods didn't have his "A" game for the second day in a row, struggling to a mere-mortal par 73 yesterday for a 36-hole score of 143.

That's nine behind Els. But who's counting?

Well, Els is.

Can't say as you can blame him. Not when he finished second to Woods four times last year.

Asked if winning the winners-only Mercedes means more than any other regular tour event, Els said not really.

"(But in) a regular tour event, you've got to try and beat 153 guys and Tiger. This week you've got to beat 32 guys and Tiger."

But it's the Ernie Els Show going into the weekend.

"Ernie's got the whole deal. He hits it three miles and straight and putts real good," said Mediate, who played with Els in the first round.

"This course favors longer hitters," Els said.

So it's not surprising that he will be paired in today's round with Singh, another long knocker.

"I played the par-5s really well today. I eagled the fifth and birdied the rest. That's the key. That's what's needed out here," said Singh, who reached the green in two on all four of the 5-par holes.

He nearly drove the 373-yard 12th hole and two-putted from the front fringe for a birdie.

Singh thought local knowledge of the sprawling par-73 Plantation Course was another big factor.

"All of the leaders played here before. I played the golf course before. There's been a few guys that played in the Kapalua (International) event that has been going on it seems like forever," said Singh, one of three in the 33-player field who has played in the three Mercedes Championships held here.

As for Woods, he knows the course well enough. But his game's still a bit rusty.

"It's just one of those things," said Woods, whose three bogeys yesterday all came at par-3 holes -- the second, eighth and 11th.

He also took two unplayables in the round, and three-putted from just off the front fringe for a par at the par-5 18th --the tournament's easiest scoring hole for the second day in a row.

"I'm hitting terrible, chipping terrible and putting terrible. But I feel good about my swing. It can't get any worse, I know I can score," said Woods, who needs to go into a hurry-up offense.

Els, for one, isn't counting Tiger out yet.

Mercedes Championships

At Kapalua, Hawaii
Plantation Course
Yardage: 7,263
Par: 73 (36-37)

Second Round

Ernie Els 68-66--134
Jim Furyk 69-69--138
Rory Sabbatini 69-69--138
Vijay Singh 71-67--138
Billy Andrade 69-70--139
Rocco Mediate 70-69--139
Michael Clark II 69-70--139
Stewart Cink 69-71--140
Justin Leonard 67-73--140
Duffy Waldorf 70-70--140
Mike Weir 70-70--140
Paul Azinger 70-70--140
David Toms 70-71--141
John Huston 74-67--141
Brad Faxon 71-70--141
Dennis Paulson 70-72--142
Jesper Parnevik 76-66--142
Tiger Woods 70-73--143
Loren Roberts 74-69--143
Hal Sutton 70-74--144
Kirk Triplett 71-73--144
Chris DiMarco 71-73--144
David Duval 73-71--144
Phil Mickelson 72-73--145
Tom Scherrer 74-71--145
Carlos Franco 70-76--146
Robert Allenby 72-74--146
Scott Verplank 74-73--147
Dudley Hart 70-77--147
Tom Lehman 74-73--147
Notah Begay III 75-76--151
Jim Carter 80-72--152
Steve Lowery 80-73--153

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