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Ernie Rolling As He Preps For Augusta

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"I'd like to put this in some dye–some green dye!” said Ernie Els to the crowd at Bay Hill today as he donned the blue blazer he earned by winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. He said not to lessen today’s accomplishment but to imply show exactly what is on his mind these days. Tournament host Arnold Palmer, a 4-time Masters champion understands.

Els, the amiable South African, doubled his PGA Tour win total for 2010 this afternoon and clearly the donning of a green jacket and a silver trophy at Augusta National in well within his current abilities.

The 2002 Open Championship winner had to finish up four holes today after weather and darkness prevented a Sunday finish and it might just have been a blessing in disguise. Prior to the stoppage he had just scarred his scorecard with a double bogey on the 13th hole and followed it up with another miscue and bogey on the 14th that opened up an opportunity for his pursuers

But Els proved the form his win at the WGC CA Championship was no fluke and posted four straight pars today to eclipse runners-up Edoardo Molinari and Kevin Na by two strokes.

Of course Els is no stranger to the winner’s circle. His new total of 18 PGA Tour wins includes a 1998 victory at Bay Hill and puts his worldwide professional victory total at 46.

So what would help to complete that resume and cement his path to the World Golf Hall of Fame? In everybody’s mind it would have to be that third leg of the career grand slam, The Masters. And even with a Tiger return Ernie has to be the favorite, on paper, and in the hearts of his many fans.

Two wins in his last two appearances leave little doubt about it and that feat was not lost on Els who has done it three times in his career. “It feels special. I think if you're a betting man, you know, you would have got really good odds anywhere in the world that Ernie Els would win two tournaments in a row, you know.

I know a lot of guys basically have written me off, you know, and a lot of guys probably said it was a fluke in Miami. It was hard work this week, but you know, two wins is definitely special. I'll just keep working hard. There's still a lot of flaws in my game that I've got to figure out and get right. I know I'm never going to play the game perfectly, but I can still improve.”

Els had originally intended to be at Augusta National today for a practice round but had to settle for a little more time in Orlando and a victory. With an extra $1.08 million in his bank account and a boost of confidence he will instead head for Magnolia Lane tomorrow.

Accompanying him will be former NHL player Dan Quinn who has been splitting caddy duties for Els this year with Ricci Roberts. With Roberts having been on the bag for both Els wins this year some may question that tactic but Els says there is no need to worry. “I know a lot of guys said I should take Ricci, but we have made a decision. I've spoken to Ricci and Dan about it and they are happy and we'll stick with it. You know, I don't think anybody can tell me anything more about Augusta than I already know. I've had local caddies take me through there. I've had everybody take me through there. So I know exactly where everything goes.”

Els will play the Shell Houston this week but even if he does not win that he still feels he has some momentum in his effort to win a Green Jacket. He says he is in a better frame of mind these days, more reminiscent of a time during the 1990’s when he was a contender in just about every event he played.

That bodes well for next week in Augusta.

And his joke about turning the blue blazer into the green one he has wanted for so long? It shows what is forefront on his mind, not just in 2010 but each and every year when the calendar turns to April.

“It's always in my head this time of the year. You try and downplay it, but you do think about it. I mean, today I thought about it on the 72nd hole. I was like, okay, you're standing at Augusta and you've got to hit this hard fade. So even — and there's different circumstances. You think of shots that you're going to be playing over there. And I always think about it. Especially, as I say this time of year, you always think about it. Practice shots, you try and get a draw going with your driver, and high shots with your irons and you try and have your short game very sharp.
That's what I've been doing, and, you know, obviously I haven't won for such a long time, and now to be able to feel like I can tee it up and play with these boys, it feels good.”

And it looks good too. 

As nice as the colour blue is, green really is the colour of golf.

Maybe it finally is time for Ernie Els to get the garment with the most admired shade in the game.

This report provided to GolfWRX.com by Flagstick Golf Magazine (www.flagstick.com)

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Tour News

Tiger Woods fires second-round 76, will miss Genesis Open cut

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Tiger Woods’ trip to Los Angeles is over sooner than he’d hoped. Woods fired a 5-over 76 during the second round of the Genesis Open to miss the presumed cut at Riviera by four strokes (the second round won’t be completed until Saturday morning due to darkness).

Hopes were high Woods would continue to build on a T-23 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as the driving woes that plagued him at Torrey Pines followed him to the Riv, despite changing shafts in his TaylorMade M3.

RELATED: Tiger Woods WITB

Wayward off the tee, Woods made eight bogeys Friday, unable to grind out a decent score as he did with his opening-round 1-over 72. He was unable to rely on his putter the way did in this first round, three-putting back-to-back holes (No. 11 and 12). A stretch of three straight bogeys sunk Woods’ hopes of hanging around for the weekend.

(c/o PGATour.com)

We won’t have to wait long to see the Big Cat back in action, however, as Woods committed to next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida. Woods most recently put a peg in the ground at the course in 2014, where he ultimately withdrew due to back spasms.

The 79-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t teed it in back-to-back weeks since 2015, so while fans may not be encouraged by his play, at least he continues to be free from any issues with his surgically repaired back.

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Tiger Woods shoots an opening-round 72 (1-over) at the 2018 Genesis Open

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After hitting just 17 fairways all week at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open, where he finished T23, Tiger Woods switched driver shafts and added 0.75 degrees of loft in his TaylorMade M3 driver ahead of the 2018 Genesis Open this week. He went from using a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70TX shaft, to a Matrix TP6HDe shaft — he used a TP7HDe shaft back in 2015.

So how did the switch work out for him at Riviera CC on Thursday?

Well, he hit driver 9 times during his round of 72 strokes; four went right — one of which got lost in a tree and he had to re-tee — one went left, and four found the fairway. He hit 8-of-14 fairways in total; no Fred Funk, but an improvement. Woods’ bigger issue on Thursday, actually, was that he hit only 7 greens in regulation, leaving himself a few tricky up-and-downs. Despite hitting only 38 percent of greens, Woods managed to make 5 birdies, and he continues displaying prowess on the greens (1.784 Strokes Gained Putting, and 82 feet worth of putts made).

He also showed some flashes of old Tiger with Arnie-esque follow through.

Of course, that means he missed the fairway way right, and he did go onto bogey the hole, but the shot made for some excitement on golf twitter, at least.

According to @RandallMellGC, Tiger described his round in a post-round interview: “I fought hard. I made a few simple, silly mistakes, bad shots here and there, missed on the wrong side, made a few birdies as well. 1-over’s not bad.”

Yea, that’s about right.

Tiger currently sits at T66, and six shots off the leader. Lots of golf to play, but he’ll likely be contending with the cutline come Friday afternoon. How do you think Tiger will finish this week at the 2018 Genesis Open?

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Custom Camerons, wedge stampings, a 6-hybrid, and Tiger wearing Tennis shoes?

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Yesterday, we brought you shots of Thomas Pieters’ iron stamping, Adam Scott’s new (shorter) wand, and more.

Today, we’ve got some more choice shots from the range at Riviera from Tuesday’s practice. Strap in for a sampling from a cornucopia of WITB shots and a helping of Tiger Woods (who we feature in two galleries). We also discussed his new driver shaft yesterday, so if you missed that piece, check it out.

On to the pictures.

First up, Wesley Bryan looks to be gaming an some Anthony Taranto artistry with his 54-degree Mack Daddy 4 wedge. Do work, indeed!

Ted Potter, Jr. won more than a million dollars at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week. But as the check hasn’t come yet, he hasn’t been able to buy Goo Gone to take the tape residue off the bottom of his putter.

A custom Cam for Rafa Cabrera Bello.

…and William McGirt.

#GrindGoals (Luke Donald’s 60-degree Mizuno T7)

Vijay Singh looks to have gotten his foot stuck in a bear trap, and yet he’s still practicing!

The most famous putter in golf, and Nike Vapor Advantage tennis shoes for Tiger?

Apparently, all the weight modification available on PXG 0311 irons was insufficient for Charl Schwartzel.

When your name scripting matches your sponsor’s script…

This is not the WITB of a 20-handicapper, rather Camilo Villegas may be the only Tour pro gaming a 6-hybrid.

So much is going on with Camilo Villegas’ irons…

You’ve seen custom stampings, but how about Bubba Watson’s custom shaft and custom shaft graphic?

When you’re the only PGA Tour professional to own a candy store, your wedge imagery reflects that fact.

The Big Cat browsing GolfWRX on mobile, no doubt…

If you’d like to dig deeper, we have two galleries of range photos from the Riv, plus 13 (!) WITB threads. Dig in!

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