Column: The long, lopsided history of Woods and Els

From FOX Sports - March 13, 2018

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)Tiger Woods spoke with sentiment and respect until a twist at the end.

Woods hit safely onto the green during the opening round of the 2010 HSBC Champions in Shanghai, stepped to the side and looked over at Ernie Els shifting his hips to settle that 6-foot-4 frame over his shot.

You know, Ive probably been around this guy longer than anyone on tour, Woods said that day, perhaps reminiscing about his final major as an amateur, the 1996 British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, when he sought out Els for advice on whether to turn pro.

And after all these years, Woods said with a hint of a smile, you still forget just how (expletive) big he is.

They both are giants for what theyve done for their sport. Their final act will be as captains of the Presidents Cup in 2019 at Royal Melbourne.

Els speaks as eloquently about Woods as anyone. He is always honest and usually right.

He just couldnt keep up with Woods, which was no shame.

No else could, either.

It was 20 years ago this week at Bay Hill when the potential for a rivalry still existed.

Woods staged the largest comeback of his career in early 1998 at the Johnnie Walker Championship in Thailand. Starting the final round eight shots behind Els, he went out well before the last groups and posted a 65, and then he beat Els on the second hole of a playoff.

A month later at Bay Hill, the South African had what he described as his day in the sun.

Because of rain delays, the final 36 holes were held on Sunday. Woods and Davis Love III were tied for the lead, joined in the final group by Els, who was two shots behind. Els got his revenge with a 65 in the morning, and he wound up beating Woods by 10 shots and Love by 11.

That was as close as Els and Woods got as rivals.

Els has finished runner-up to Woods seven times, the most of any player. That includes four times in 2000, two of them majors, three of those tournaments by a combined 28 shots.

It started with that titanic playoff at Kapalua when they matched eagles on the 72nd hole, birdies on the first playoff hole, and Woods won with a 35-foot putt downhill, into the grain with about 2 feet of break. Els also was runner-up by five shots at the Memorial, 15 shots at the U.S. Open and eight shots at the British Open.


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