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

Singh, Mickelson, Els fail to contend for title

Notebook

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, who started the final round at 5-under and only got as far as 6-under before a double bogey on the par-3 12th after leaving his ball in a bunker.

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 M-=-3 rounds. I played really solid. The putter was still ice cold."

Immelman's ace

When Trevor Immelman's caddie tells him to change clubs, he's not about to argue.

The South African aced the par-3 16th hole yesterday after switching clubs at caddie Neil Wallace's suggestion. Immelman wanted to hit an 8-iron, but Wallace told him to go with a 7-iron.

The ball hit the right side of the green and rolled into the cup for a hole in one. Immelman screamed and jumped in the air when he saw the ball drop, then swung his right fist in a roundhouse punch.

"I'd like to look at the replay." he said. "Probably jumped 10 feet in the air."

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