All's well for Els in Bay Hill win
By Doug Ferguson
ORLANDO, Fla. — Ernie Els made two clutch par putts, escaped trouble from a buried lie in the bunker and wound up wearing a blue blazer yesterday for winning the rain-delayed Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Suddenly, it's easy to picture him in a different color jacket two weeks from now.
Els overcame a few nervous moments with four solid pars to wrap up a 1-under 71 and win by two shots at Bay Hill, giving him back-to-back victories for the first time in seven years and setting himself up as a favorite at The Masters.
"I'd like to put this jacket in some dye," Els said at the trophy presentation. "Some green dye."
Coming off a four-shot victory in the World Golf Championship at Doral two weeks ago, Els had to work harder than he should have for his 18th career victory on the PGA Tour.
He had a five-shot lead Sunday afternoon with six holes remaining until hitting into the water on No. 13 for a double bogey and hitting into the sand on the next hole for a bogey. Then came the thunderstorms, halting the final round until it resumed at 6 a.m. (Hawai'i time) yesterday.
Els immediately felt pressure as he stood over a 6-foot par putt, but he made it.
With his lead down to one shot over Kevin Na, his 4-iron came up short of the 17th green and plugged into the face of the bunker. Els blasted out to 6 feet and made that one for par.
He finished at 11-under 277 and moved to No. 7 in the world rankings. Els earned $1.08 million.
Na missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole for a share of the lead, then drove into the right rough and had to lay up short of the water. He hit a wedge within 8 feet and missed the putt, giving Els some breathing room.
Na closed with a 69 and shared second with Edoardo Molinari of Italy, who also had a 69.
On the 18th, Els hit a perfect drive and pulled his approach into the rough near a bunker. He chipped to 8 feet and holed the par putt.