Other three can't put up much fight vs. Woods

Singh, Mickelson, Els fail to contend for title

Notebook

The Masters

April 11, 2005|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

AUGUSTA, Ga. - The 69th Masters was supposed to be golf's big showdown. It was supposed to be the week the world's top four players came together at the height of their games and duked it out - figuratively speaking - for a green jacket.

It didn't happen.

While Tiger Woods emerged from an opening-round 2-over-par 74 to win - marking the first time in his career that he won after posting more than a 70 in the first round - The Other Three faded either early or late.

Vijay Singh, who came into the tournament having recently reclaimed the No. 1 world ranking from Woods, was a factor in the opening round and a presence on the leader board until Saturday. He finished tied for fifth at 4-under 284.

Phil Mickelson, the defending champion who made a move to get into contention after finishing a third-round 69 yesterday morning, fell apart with two double bogeys on the back nine and came in 10th at 3-under 285.

And Ernie Els, ranked fourth coming in, never got it going. After an opening-round 75, Els barely made the cut and kept plummeting down the scoreboard, bottoming out at 47th of the 50 players who finished the tournament.

"I just couldn't get the feel of it," Singh said of his putting after shooting even-par 72 in the final round. "I couldn't get the pace. I tried everything. I'm not putting badly, just can't get a feel in my hands. Just going to continue to work on it."

Asked about losing the No. 1 ranking, Singh said, "It doesn't concern me very much. It's a long season."

About the most interesting thing that happened to Singh and Mickelson was that they played together in the final round, three days after a somewhat tense confrontation brought about when Singh complained that Mickelson's spikes were chewing up the 12th green.

Though there were many photographers present to see if animosity was still there, Mickelson downplayed the pairing.

"We had a great day out there," said Mickelson. "We laughed. We giggled."

Looking for his second major and third win of the season, Mickelson struggled with a 2-over 74.

"I wasn't able to mount a charge," said Mickelson.

As for Els, it was his worst finish in a major since a tie for 49th in the 1998 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club.

"My game wasn't there," he said. "I don't want to make excuses. Each day something was wrong. Get in better shape for the Open. I'm not really thinking about the Open. Just thinking about working on my game."

Also mentioned among golf's elite, fifth-ranked Retief Goosen of South Africa had the best showing aside from Woods.

Goosen wound up tied for third with Luke Donald of England at 5-under 283 after a 5-under 67 yesterday, the best round of the day.

"It was nice," said Goosen. "I played well 2 1/2 -three rounds. I played really solid. The putter was still ice cold."

Ace in the hole

South African Trevor Immelman had started yesterday afternoon's final round in the next-to-last group, trailing Woods by six shots and knowing he would have to make a fast move to get into contention.

By the time he reached the 16th tee, Immelman was long out of it. Two bogeys offset two birdies in the first 12 holes, but a double-bogey 7 on the par-5 13th had put Immelman in a bad mood.

"I was a little down coming to the tee," Immelman, 25, recalled later. "I was in between clubs. I wanted to hit an 8 [iron] and my caddie said, `It's a nice 7.' That's why I pay him so much!"

With Woods and Chris DiMarco walking up to the 15th green, Immelman's 7-iron shot bounced on the green and rolled in the cup for a hole-in-one.

"I think I jumped 10 feet off the ground," Immelman said.

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