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Posted on: February 23, 2012 11:32 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 1:05 pm

McIlroy loaded for Bear this spring

Rory McIlroy hits a shot in his first round win at the Accenture. (Getty Images)

By Steve Elling

MARANA, Ariz. -- Like Jack Nicklaus' home haunt needs more star power.

With a high-end course in West Palm Beach, Fla., that already includes No. 1 Luke Donald and formerly top-ranked Ernie Els as members, the player anointed as a sure future No. 1 is going to be hanging around, too.

World No. 2 Rory McIlroy, 22, has rented a home in the Jupiter area, through the Players Championship in May, and said he will be spending his time in the States working out of the Bear's Club, the place Nicklaus designed a few years back which serves as his Florida home base.

McIlroy said he will play three straight events starting this week at the Accenture Match play, followed by the Honda Classic and Doral, two events within a few miles of his new South Florida abode. He will take the next three weeks off before playing the Masters.

McIlroy is a member of the PGA Tour this year.

With Els and Donald, that's some serious firepower playing out of the increasingly famous Nicklaus club.

"We could do our own Tavistock [Cup]," Donald cracked earlier this week.

Based on a certain prescribed outcome, McIlroy could unseat Donald as No. 1 with a victory this week. After winning his opening match against George Coetzee, McIlroy faces Anders Hansen of Denmark on Thursday.

Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley and Camilo Villegas also play out of the Bear's Club. Not bad. Not at all. 

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Steve Elling and Eye On Golf on Twitter. 

Posted on: February 22, 2012 7:25 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 12:16 pm

No. 1 Donald gets dispatched, well, big and easy

By Steve Elling 

MARANA, Ariz. -- OK, so the opponent was Ernie Els, a former world No. 1 and a seven-time winner at the European Tour's match-play event.

Defending champion Luke Donald would have had trouble beating practically anybody in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship on Wednesday.

"I don't think it would have mattered who I played today," said Donald, the top-seeded player in the field and the current world No. 1. "I just didn't play well."

He didn't play long, either.

Els hammered Donald, 5 and 4, closing out the defending champion with four birdies in their 14 holes, though that wasn;t so much the determining factor.

Donald, one of themost unerring players of the era, was all over the map and made four bogeys, making it easy for the Big Easy.

"I'm not sure where to start," Donald said. "I just didn't play well. It's disappointing. I;ve been working really hard.To lose control of the golf ball like I did today is really frustrating."

It marked the third time in event history that the No. 1 overall seed was kicked to the curb on the first day of play, with Donald joining early departures Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

Given the seeding and ranking, it lends new meaning to "one and done."

"I gave away too many holes and made too many mistakes," Donald said. "You can't do that in match play against anyone, let alone Ernie."

Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:47 pm

Breaking news: Els actually wins one

MARANA, Ariz. -- If there has been a pattern to Ernie Els' career in the Accenture Match Play Championship, it can best be summarized thusly:

One and done.

Els was nearly knocked off in the first round again on Wednesday in a wild match with Ryder Cupper Jeff Overton, but hung on to win on the 19th hole.

"It was a weird game," Els laughed. "My failure rate is pretty good here in extra holes."

Hey, let's be honest. It's not that great, period.

In his 10 previous visits to the match-play affair, Els went home after the first match in exactly have of them. In three other instances, he got booted on the second day. Put another way, the future Hall of Famer has only twice advanced to the third round. 

His scrape with Overton was just as rough in many regards and he certainly looked like he was headed to another one-day exit. Els lost the first three holes, then won five holes i n a row in mid-round, despite making only one birdie in that stretch. Fittingly, Overton his a shot into the cactus on the first extra hole to all but cement it for Els.

Category: Golf
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