Ernie Els Unleashes 63 After Dynamic Club Change at Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Ernie Els Unleashes 63 After Dynamic Club Change at Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

Ernie Els has turned it on down the stretch of this season. Now let’s see if he can close.

Els has tied for fourth place, third place, seventh place, and fourth place in the last four PGA Tour Champions events. With an 8-under 63 and no bogeys, he is in first place by two shots after 18 holes at Phoenix Country Club in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, which is the last tournament of the season.

“I hope I feel this way again tomorrow and in the days to come,” he said after his round. “I know I have a little game. I’ve been playing pretty well for the last three or four weeks.” Okay, let’s get things done until Sunday. Hopefully I’ll still be in the running on Sunday, and let’s make something good happen.

The best golfer in 2023, Steve Stricker, dropped out before the game started, so there are now 35 players left in this 72-hole, no-cut event. Given that he already has the season-long title, Els wants to make the most of this week, when everyone is competing for second place.

He told Phil Blackmar of Golf Channel that some changes to his gear are working out so far.

Els said, “I thought I’d try something new in the last week of the year, so I made my driver’s shaft a little lighter and got a different driver head from XXIO.”

This week, the other pre-tournament leaders are already behind schedule. Steven Alker, who won the Schwab Cup last year, shot 67 and is now four shots behind. Bernhard Langer shot 68 and is now five shots behind, and Padraig Harrington shot 69 and is now six shots behind.

“We still have a long way to go. If I’m still in the running, I don’t think I’ll think about it until Sunday afternoon. For now, I just want to play well this week and try to finish the year on a pretty steady note.”

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