Archive for Saturday, January 11, 2003

Els builds Mercedes lead

Estes three shots back at season-opening event

January 11, 2003

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— Ernie Els continued his assault on the par 5s at Kapalua and wound up with another comfortable lead in the Mercedes Championships.

Now all he has to do is finish it off.

Els rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt on the final hole for an 8-under 65 to break the 36-hole tournament record at 17-under 129. More importantly, he built a three-stroke lead over Bob Estes going into the weekend of the season-opening event.

Els had a four-stroke lead at this point two years ago, but a mental lapse on Saturday cost him momentum, and a few bad swings cost him a chance at winning. Estes had another bogey-free round for a 66, leaving him at 132 and in the final group Saturday with Els.

K.J. Choi of South Korea, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour last year, had his second straight 67 and was alone in third at 134, followed by the trio of Retief Goosen (65), Jerry Kelly (70) and Chris Riley (70).

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