Els beginning to make game look easy again
Winless for two years, Ernie Els put himself in position yesterday for his second straight victory.
Els made sure the last two holes did not unravel a solid day of work at Bay Hill. He made a 10-foot putt to save par on the 18th hole for a 3-under-par 69, giving him a one-shot lead over Ben Curtis in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Two weeks after his four-shot victory at Doral that ended the longest drought of his career, Els broke 70 for the third straight round and was at 10-under 206.
“There’s a lot of work left,’’ said Els, who last won at Bay Hill in 1998 when he dominated Tiger Woods and Davis Love III in the final group of a 36-hole Sunday.
Curtis looked just as good. He just didn’t finish. Curtis had a two-shot lead until he chopped up the par-5 16th hole from 60 yards short of the green. He bladed a wedge some 70 feet long and three-putted for bogey on the easiest hole at Bay Hill. Then, he went long on the par-3 17th and chipped off the green for another bogey.
Curtis had to make a 6-foot par putt on the 18th to keep it together with a 70, leaving him one shot behind.
They will be in the final group with Chris Couch, who was headed for a double bogey until three big bounces. His approach to No. 18 ricocheted along the rocks framing the green, and the third bounce sent the ball onto the green. Two putts later, Couch had a par and a 69 and was at 7-under 209.
LPGA — Hee Kyung Seo shot a 3-under 69 to widen her lead to five strokes after three rounds of the inaugural Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif.
Champions — Corey Pavin birdied his last four holes for a course-record 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Cap Cana Championship in the Dominican Republic.
Nationwide — Andrew Buckle needed just 24 putts for the second straight day to shoot a 6-under 65 for a two-stroke lead at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open.