Chrysler Championship Round Three: Choi stands in the way of Ernie's big comeback
Are we in for a small bit of golfing history Sunday? It’s been a long time since Ernie Els took home a first place cheque - almost exactly two years ago in fact - but today could just mark the start of his long overdue return to winning ways. He leaves no doubt about how important a win would be - “huge … The last three months I’ve been really thinking about winning, because I feel over my injury finally.”
The market certainly gives him the nod with a slight price advantage over K J Choi, even though the Korean is a stroke ahead. In my book that is significant on such a tight course. While we have seen a fair few low rounds we are effectively only two strokes further on than at the end of round one.
The price obviously reflects perceived quality over any stats, because the numbers say the layers have their sums a bit wrong. For a start, Choi is three from three for winning from a third round lead. No choker he - as he said yesterday, what he understands better than many is the need for patience in these situations. Okay, Ernie knows that too. But also the third round leader has won this competition for the last three years in a row.
Naturally the best stats are, like rules, there to be broken and if anyone can it is Els. Pumped up as he undoubtedly is, it would help if he tightened up his putting, which went a bit astray Saturday, and his approach work, to take full advantage of what look like better conditions Sunday. The wind’s still going to gust, but not as strongly according to the forecasts.
But then good conditions favour almost everyone and this is no gimme pack at the top of the leaderboard.
You can’t even count out Paul Goydos since he’s the only guy who’s kept all his rounds in the 60s. Another two or three under Sunday might well be all that’s needed. Troy Matteson is still going like a rocket, although we should recall how tiredness finally got to him last Sunday, while Joe Durant seems to have successfully put his horrible Friday to the back of his mind.
Expect a big effort from Mike Weir as he battles for a place in the Tour Championship. He is a bit over $100,000 adrift but, with his first two targets, Els and Durant, well into the money this week and even Tom Pernice Jr picking up a bob or two, it looks like Weir needs to come third at the very least to stand a chance.
And then of course, there’s Vijay Singh, whose putting showed a distinct improvement Saturday and who is famous for his Sunday tilts at the top. A 5-shot deficit is a bit of a haul here, but if there’s anyone who can crack it, Vijay’s our man.
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