Verizon Heritage, round three: Strong winds call for really strong minds
Sometimes I just can’t resist it when people say something really stupid. They’re always out there, of course, the fools who help the gambling world go round. But it’s hard to fathom the naivety of the forum scribe who wrote on Friday: “[Els] is 5 shots clear ffs [I’m not translating that one] and who is behind him? Leaney and Kelly. Not exactly what you would call intimidating players. Ernie has this sown up already!”
And so it came to pass that Ernie Els lost his way on the Saturday and fell from three shots ahead to one behind. He can only blame himself. Jerry Kelly did rely on a freakish ace on the fourth to go one shot clear. But three bogeys and a double bogey for Els, against just a single bogey in the previous two rounds? In almost perfect golfing conditions? Shake your head and move on.
Els is still far from out of it. Trouble is, so are half the world and his father Sunday morning with everyone predicting mayhem.
One look at the radar map tells why: there’s nasty looking storms everywhere you look with just an hour or two to go - crumbs, there’s even talk of tornadoes! Even with the worst of it expected to pass by mid-morning, having given the place a thorough soaking, we’re talking winds in the 25-30mph bracket. “You’re going to need guts tomorrow,” was how Kelly summed it up.
So not too much speculation this Sunday, just anticipation that with at least 10 players still in with a genuine shout this could be an excellent day to be a layer. I will make the following observations:
As Kelly suggests, he will have to draw on all of his mental coaching in these conditions. It is still hard to get over the stat I saw quoted that he is one from five leading into a final round.
You might think Els has had his bad round, and it was pretty blustery when he won the South African Open last year.
For all his youthful inexperience, Kevin Na says he’s a dab hand at playing horrid weather because of time he spent in Europe. Cheeky monkey! (Having said that, I think the spectators who sing ‘Na na na na, hey hey, kiss him goodbye’ should be given a talking to.)
Stephen Ames fired his best round of the season - seven under - Saturday. I doubt he’ll do that again but he’s only four behind.
Zach Johnson has been getting better each round, which is not quite the picture of post-Augusta fatigue people had expected. Who said he couldn’t win straight after the Masters? (Oh, I did. Oops!)
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