Can anyone match Ernie Els in the World Match Play Championship?
The South African - the three-time defending champion and defending U.S. Open titlist - beat two-time winner Ian Woosnam of Wales 7 and 6 in Friday's quarterfinals for his 10th win in 10 matches since 1994.His good friend, Nick Price, is next up in Saturday's semifinals on the West Course at Wentworth. Price beat New Zealand's Frank No-bi-lo 6 and 5.
Els defeated Price 3 and 2 earlier this year in the Andersen Consulting event.
American Brad Faxon, a 2 and 1 winner over flu-weakened Colin Montgomerie, faces Vijay Singh in the other semifinal. Singh defeated Australian Steve Elkington 5 and 4.
"He (Els) is tough," Price said. "Now he's going to be even tougher. He's had five weeks off, and now he has 30 holes under his belt.
"In the Andersen Consulting, he played well. It just seemed whatever I did - he did one better."
Els overpowered Woosnam on a sunny, windy day that made the course play even longer after rain had shortened the roll Thursday.
"I played about as good as I had to," Els said. "I didn't make many putts, but when you're five or six up, that's not a must."
Els - who probably plays more on this course than anywhere else in the world - was 4-up after only six holes and finished with a 5-under-par 67 for the first 18 and a four-hole lead. Woosnam never got close, falling seven behind after 27.
"I felt confident with my swing for the first time all week," Els said. "That and knowing the golf course so well helped."
Faxon turned around his match against Montgomerie by holing a 25-foot putt for par-4 at the 25th hole. Montgomerie - two holes ahead at the time - needed only a tap-in for his par.
"I would say the seventh hole was pivotal," Faxon said. "After leading (by one hole), I had just lost 4, 5 and 6. . . I was just trying to hang on."
In the end, it was the Scot who lost his grip.
Leading by two holes, Montgomerie dropped to a 1-up lead with a bogey at the par-3 28th. Faxon birdied the par-4 29th with a 12-foot putt, got another birdie at the par-5 30th, and was conceded birdie at the par-4 31st where Montgomerie took bogey with a drive into the trees.
"It was satisfying to beat Colin," said Faxon, who was on the losing side against the Scot two weeks ago in the Ryder Cup in Spain. Montgomerie criticized Faxon before the Ryder Cup, saying his pending divorce and bad driving was hurting his game.
Faxon said he had talked to Montgomerie about the comments and "we're still very good friends," he added.
"We played head-to-head in the Ryder Cup in 1995 when Fred Couples and I beat him and (Sam) Torrance," Faxon said. "This doesn't mean I'm a better player - he's a much better player than I am. But I got him today when he was down a little, and I feel great about it."
Montgomerie complained of having the flu. He also said he was exhausted after nine weeks without a break including the Ryder Cup and his bid to win a record fifth straight European money title.
At Williamsburg, Va., Duffy Waldorf shot a 2-under-par 69 Friday to keep the lead in the Michelob Championship with a 10-under 132, and David Duval shot a 66 to move into second place, one shot off the lead.
Six others reached the halfway point at 8-under. That group included Fred Funk, who changed his grip after an opening 69 and shot a bogey-free 65.
Also at 134 were Steve Lowery, whose 66 was built on eight birdies and three bogeys, Brett Quigley, Scott Gump, Kirk Triplett and Brad Bryant.
At Napa, Calif., Larry Nelson shot a record-setting 8-under-par 64 to take a three-stroke lead Friday after the opening round of the Transamerica seniors tournament.
It was the lowest opening round in the tournament, and the largest first-round lead ever. Four golfers - John Bland (1995), Butch Baird (1994), Bob E. Smith (1994) and Dave Stockton (1992) - had first-round scores of 65. Jim Dent held a two-stroke lead after the first round in 1990.
The tournament record for a round is 63, shared by Dale Douglass (1991), Bob Charles (1992) and Isao Aoki (1994).