Golf: Janzen finally prevails over Els: US Open champion finds winning ways prior to defence

Click to follow
The Independent Online
SEVERAL years ago the golf world had a dearth of accomplished players in their 20s, the majors and the other big tournaments were dominated by veterans in their 30s and 40s. That trend has changed recently as a group of talented young players has started to take centre stage.

Yesterday the Buick Classic at Westchester was decided after a battle between two of the best of their generation, Lee Janzen, 29, and Ernie Els of South Africa, 24. Just as at Baltusrol when he won the US Open last year, Janzen made a dramatic birdie on the 16th hole yesterday to set up victory, eventually shooting 66, beating Els by three strokes and equalling the tournament record at 16 under par.

Janzen and Els started the day one stroke apart, with Janzen in the lead. There were never more than two strokes between them until the end, and they were tied on four occasions. Els had one good chance to pass Janzen, but missed the six-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole, and they remained level at 14 under. Janzen nearly took the next hole in one, tapping in to take the lead alone, but that vanished when he bogeyed the next hole.

The par-three 16th was to prove decisive when Els went into a greenside bunker and Janzen's tee shot ended up 35 feet away. Janzen downed the putt, and a moment later Els missed a 10-footer for par. The tournament was over then, and they went to the final hole with Janzen at 15 under and Els two behind. Els never threatened to close the gap, hooking his first two strokes on the 18th hole while Janzen sank an eight-foot birdie putt.

Janzen is going to the US Open at Oakmont later this week with even more confidence than he had last year, having now emphatically shaken off the post-Baltusrol depression his game has been in. In the past two weeks he has finished fourth and first, the first occasions that he has even come near to finishing in the top 10 since last year's US Open.

Seve Ballesteros was heading for his plane for Oakmont as Els and Janzen were starting their warm- up on the range. He shot a 73 and finished eight over par, second to last in the tournament. The man in last place was his playing partner yesterday, the only other European to make the cut this week, David Feherty, who shot a 76 for an 11 over finish.

BUICK WESTCHESTER CLASSIC (Harrison, NY) Leading final scores (US unless stated): 268 L Janzen 69 69 64 66. 271 E Els (SA) 68 66 69 68. 274 B Faxon 70 68 70 66; J Haas 68 70 69 67. 276 B Burns 71 67 70 68; S Pate 66 72 69 69; B Andrade 70 71 66 69. 277 J Maggert 72 72 64 69; R Freeman 69 69 69 70; M Brooks 71 70 66 70; H Irwin 70 72 65 70; N Ozaki (Japan) 69 67 69 73; 278 J Wilson 68 68 69 73; D Pruitt 66 71 68 73. 279 T Kite 68 74 64 73. 280 B Bryant 70 67 73 70; G Norman (Aus) 73 67 69 71; P Tataurangi (NZ) 71 71 67 71; T Tryba 71 71 66 72; H Sutton 71 71 67 71; B Estes 66 71 70 73. Selected: 292 S Ballesteros (Sp) 71 73 75 73. 295 D Feherty (GB) 74 70 75 76.

Comments