No one can deny that the greatest head-to-head battle between Ernie Els and Tiger Woods was their 2003 Presidents Cup playoff showdown in the dark at Fancourt.
Here’s a look at five other memorable tournaments where the ending involved each of these two icons:
1998 Bay Hill Invitational
Els had a six-shot lead over a trio of players, one of whom was Woods, who liked the fact that he was in his first final-round pairing with the South African. But Woods started bogey, bogey, bogey and Els’ day was that much easier. With a 73, Els won by four, while Woods crashed with a 77 and finished T13.
1998 Johnnie Walker Classic
Els was trying to hold off Nick Faldo in the final round in Thailand, hardly worried about Woods, who was eight back. But Woods shot 65 and waited two hours for Els to finish. A bogey at the 17th put Els one back, then he birdied the 18th to tie. Woods’ 14-foot birdie roll on the second playoff hole left the ecstatic Thais in a frenzy.
1999 Nissan Open
Els and Woods were tied through 54, two shots behind third-round leader Ted Tryba. But Els seized control in the middle of the final round with five birdies in eight holes. Even with bogeys at the 16th and 18th, Els shot 68 to beat Woods by two.
2000 Mercedes Championship
They’re still buzzing in Maui about this one. Tied at 14 under to start the final round, Woods and Els were still tied playing the 18th hole. There, Woods unleashed a brilliant second to 12 feet at the par-five that measured around 600 yards. Els’ shot was even better as he hit it inside of Woods’. Each made his eagle putt. Back to the 18th for the first playoff, Woods and Els again hit the green and this time had matching two-putt birdies. Second time around, again at the 18th, Woods drained a 40-foot birdie putt to win, leaving Els crushed, but with a priceless perspective. ‘I think he’s a legend in the making,’ he said. ‘He’s probably going to be bigger than Elvis.’
2006 Dubai Desert Classic
Els was two behind Woods, the co-leader, through 54 holes but came home in 67 to get into the clubhouse at 19 under. Woods birdied the 17th and 18th to tie Els, then won on the first playoff hole with a par.
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