Els changing his mind about Match Play

February 13, 2008

It looks as if the Big Easy is changing his mind about skipping the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. One source indicates Ernie Els will fly to Arizona to play the event at the Gallery at Dove Mountain in Tucson. After a pair of top-10 finishes in Dubai and India the past two week's Els wrote on his website that he would not rejoin the PGA Tour until the Honda Classic and he would stay in the U.S. until the Masters. But Els, who lost in the first round of the Match Play the last three times he has played it (2003, 2006 and 2007), has contacted tournament officials about attending. One report has it that wife Liezl convinced Els to play in Arizona and head to Florida from there.

Before he plays in Tucson, Els must find out if his new Callaway I-mix driver conforms to USGA standards. He kept the club out of play for the first two rounds of last week's Indian Masters on the European Tour, but used it on the weekend when the R&A told tour officials the driver was acceptable. However, after the tournament ended, the R&A determined it did not conform. "The [R&A] thought we were asking about adjustability, which was legal as of Jan. 1," David Garland, director of European Tour operations said in Golf World's Feb. 15 issue. "But the head--which has some cosmetic changes--had not been ruled on yet. This was not Ernie's fault, nor did the club have any performance benefits outside the rules. And since the competition had closed, there is no penalty on Ernie. But he can't use it again until it's on the conforming list."

Els entry in Tucson means that unless someone else withdraws, Anthony Kim will be bumped from the final spot in the field and J.B. Holmes will have the task of playing Tiger Woods in the first round.

--John Antonini