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This Victory Isn't Very Easy for Els

He needs three playoff holes to beat Frazar and win Sony Open for the second straight year.

January 19, 2004|From Associated Press

HONOLULU — Ernie Els had every reason to believe destiny was on his side.

He was in a playoff in the Sony Open for the second straight time. And like last year, it looked as if it would end on the second extra hole. But when a simple birdie putt slid by the cup, he realized he needed something more.

"I told myself on the next tee to win the tournament, instead of waiting for someone to give it to you," he said.

Els holed a 30-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole to hold off an impressive bid by Harrison Frazar and become the first back-to-back winner in the Sony Open in 17 years.

"A playoff in the Sony ... it's working out fine for me," said Els, the first player since Nick Faldo in the Masters (1989-90) to win the same event two straight years in playoffs.

Frazar is winless in 161 events on the PGA Tour, but left Waialae Country Club with no regrets.

"I had a one-shot lead and shot four under on a pretty tough golf course," Frazar said.

"Most of the time, that's going to be good enough. I just got beat."

Frazar closed with two straight birdies for a 66. Both players finished at 18-under 262.

Els, who has shot every round in the 60s at Waialae since he started playing the Sony Open four years ago, holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 65 that forced the playoff.

The last repeat winner at the Sony Open was Corey Pavin (1986-87).

The last time Els was in a playoff was November in the Presidents Cup, head-to-head with Tiger Woods over three dramatic holes until darkness led to a tie.

He earned $864,000 for his 13th career PGA Tour victory, and now goes to play in Thailand and Australia, not returning to the United States until late February or the middle of March.

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