Truth & Rumors: Els fed up with putting questions

Friday March 23rd, 2012

Ernie Els’s balky putting stroke cost him a chance of winning at Innisbrook last week, and the trend continued Thursday at Bay Hill, where he missed a four-footer for birdie on his final hole, the par-4 ninth. Craig Dolch, writing for the New York Times, hit up ShotLink to remind us just how undependable the flatstick has been for the Big Easy in recent months:

Last year, he was one of the tour’s worst putters from inside 15 feet. He ranked 174th from inside 5 feet (94.8 percent), 183rd from 5 to 10 feet (47.8 percent) and 178th from 10 to 15 feet (23.5 percent).

After his round Thursday, Els was again asked about his 11th-hour putting woes at Innisbrook. The normally unflappable South African, well, flapped.

“You guys have to understand, I started the final round three shots behind,” he said. “I played a hell of a round to get to the lead, then OK, I made some mistakes. You guys keep going on like I’ve killed somebody. I missed a couple of putts and I missed a couple of shots.”

Bradley plays "brutal" Ocean Course If Keegan Bradley manages to successfully defend his PGA title in August, he will do it on course that is a universe away from the Atlanta Athletic Club in look, feel and style. That venue is the wild and windy Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C. According to the AP’s Pete Iacobelli, Bradley played his first round on the Ocean Course on Thursday and afterward summed up the design in three words:

“It is brutal.”

He’s the latest pro golfer to reach that conclusion after walking off Pete Dye’s treacherous layout hard against the Atlantic Ocean. Dye constructed the course for the 1991 Ryder Cup matches and the combination of the swirling winds, adjacent marshes and protected greens brought the game's best players at the time to their knees.

“I didn’t think it was that hard today,” quipped Dye, the 86-year-old architect.

Dye was on hand to make sure his masterpiece will be in first-class shape. The course is expected to play at 7,606 yards. Add in the tricky winds, the sand dunes and marshes that line nearly every hole and things could get as wild down the stretch this August as they did for Bradley last year.

Bradley, a long hitter, used a driver and hybrid 3-iron into the wind on the 494-yard, par-4 18th hole and came up short of the green.

Judy Rankin returns to booth after husband's death Analyst Judy Rankin will work the LPGA’s Kia Classic this weekend for the Golf Channel just a month after her husband, Yippy, died from throat cancer. Rankin, who herself fought breast cancer in 2006, hasn’t been part of an event broadcast in eight months. She told Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune that she’s “nervous.”

“I feel like I’ve been out of touch. I haven’t watched any golf. I haven’t concentrated on it. I hope I’m ready. I’m not positive that I am.

“I have a certain responsibility to show up and know what I’m talking about. I want to be able to do it well. I think when I get away from my house it will be easier to get my head around the golf. Standing on the range is a healthy thing in my situation right now. Everything makes me sad.”

Rankin is a pro’s pro, who has long been one of the most respected voices in the game. Her friend Juli Inkster expects Rankin will quickly rediscover her groove:

“Even under the most stressful situation, she’s still Judy. She may have a lot of stress inside, but you never see it.”

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