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Elkington Wins Doral-Ryder Open

Maybe Steve Elkington can use some of the $540,000 he got for winning the Doral-Ryder Open to repair the scoring trailer he dented in frustration.

Elkington, who birdied six straight holes to charge from six strokes back, three-putted the 18th hole on the Blue Monster, but still managed to win Sunday when Ernie Els and Greg Kraft fared even worse.

With Elkington already in with an 8-under 64 for 275 -- and having dented the trailer with a swift kick -- Els and Kraft each came to No. 18 needing a par to force a playoff.

"Thank goodness they had to play that hole," Elkington said.

Both were in perfect position for par or better on what is traditionally one of the toughest closing holes on the PGA Tour.

Els played first, an 8-iron from 154 yards that turned left and got hung up in the clumpy rough just short of the water. Needing to get it close to save par, his chip came up short and trickled back down, just short of the hazard.

Kraft came through a group later, also in the fairway, trying to stay in position for his first official PGA Tour victory. The pressure finally caught up with him, however, and he caught his 5-iron so fat that it splashed into the water about 20 yards short of the green.

He managed to get up and down for bogey, a round of 71 and second place to himself. He earned $324,000, just $2,571 less than what he made all of last year.

Small consolation.

"That's going to leave a taste in my mouth I won't forget for a long time," Kraft said.

Els, who finished with a double bogey, had a 70 and tied for third with four others at 277.

"I was just thinking to get it on the damn green," Els said of his chip. "I can't believe the shots I played."

Elkington missed all of this.

After his 5-foot par putt rimmed all the way around the hole, Elkington planted his foot into the aluminum-siding trailer behind the 18th and stormed off.

"I hit that putt pretty good," Elkington said. "That seemed like the one that needed to be in to knock these guys out."

Els and Kraft tied with birdies on the 17th, and Elkington went back to the driving range to warm up for a playoff that never happened. A tour official told him what transpired on the 18th, if he didn't already hear the groans himself.

The victory was the 10th on tour for Elkington, and his second in three years at Doral.

He closed with a 69 in 1997 to beat Nick Price by two strokes, but needed much more than that on Sunday.

The six-stroke comeback was the largest at Doral since Greg Norman closed with 62 in 1990 and won with an eagle in a four-way playoff. Elkington looked like he might match that, especially with a string of six birdies starting on No. 6.

He got to 9-under for the day with a 4-foot birdie putt on the 17th, but then stumbled on the 18th and thought he would be fortunate to get into a playoff.

"I was pretty lucky to win this tournament," Elkington said.

David Toms started eagle-eagle-birdie, dunking it in the second hole with a wedge, and was among those at 277.

Andy Bean, trying to win for the first time since 1986, closed with a 73 and finished at 281, along with Greg Norman.

A victory for Els would have been his second straight on tour in stroke play, having won the Nissan Open two weeks ago. And after working out the kinks on the practice range Saturday evening, he appeared to be well on his way.

Els hit four bunkers on the first three holes, but birdied two of them and was at 13-under after a 10-foot birdie on the par-5 eighth. But he three-putted from about 40 feet on No. 9, missing the par putt from 3 feet, and began to struggle.

"That shook me up a little bit," he said.

Els had only two birdie putts on the back nine until he got to No. 16

Seven-under on the back nine in the first three rounds, Els was lucky to save par, especially after hitting five bunkers in three holes. But he made one great save after another, and finally took advantage of one of only three birdie putts on the back nine with a 12-footer on No. 17.

The 18th was another matter.

"I needed par and I tried to play a miracle shot," Els said.

Kraft should have known better. He was tied for the lead in the 1994 Western Open on the 18th hole, played aggressively and walked off with a bogey.

"Maybe it was greedy," he said. Maybe I ought to be a little more careful, but that's who I am."


  • Els has broken par in all eight of his rounds on the PGA Tour this year (Nissan and Doral).
  • This was the fifth time Kraft has played the Doral Open, but the first time he made the cut.
  • A poll on our homepage Sunday morning asked what score Kraft was likely to have in the final round. Of 394 people who voted, 55.6 percent said it would be between 70 and 72. Kraft had 71.
  • Mark Calcavecchia, who finished with a 4-over 292, said he is putting so poorly he may use a long putter. He defends his title in the Honda Classic next week.

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