Bay Hill Invitational
Bay Hill Invitational
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Preivew of this years tournament
News and report from the 1st round
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Scores from the 2nd round
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Scores from the 3rd round
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Scores from the 4th round
Golf Today report of last years event
Ernie Els, "Big Easy" to his PGA Tour peers, lived up to his nickname, thanks to a third-round 65, in winning the 1998 Bay Hill Invitational. He defends that title Thursday through Sunday at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge.

Els' Bay Hill victory bore a couple similarities to his win last month at the Nissan Open. Those similarities are named Tiger Woods and Davis Love III.

Els defeated Woods and Love -- along with Ted Tryba -- by two strokes at Riviera Country Club to earn his seventh Tour title. Els trailed Woods and Love by two strokes last year after a pair of rain-soaked and delayed rounds at Bay Hill. The adverse weather conditions dictated a 36-hole Sunday finale.

At the Nissan Open, Els, Woods and Love trailed Tryba by two strokes after 54 holes. Els won with a final-round 68, his third of the Tournament, to 70s for Woods and Love and a 72 by Tryba.

At Bay Hill last year, his heroics in the third round lifted him to a six-stroke lead over Woods, Steve Stricker and Bob Estes. The 1997 U.S. Open champion put his third-round 65 on the board while playing with Woods (1997 Masters champion) and Love (1997 PGA champion). A final-round 73 was good enough to let him coast home with his sixth Tour title, a four-stroke victory over Estes and Jeff Maggert.

"I knew I had to get to where Tiger and Davis were quickly in the morning, get into the hunt," Els said of his game plan entering Sunday's play at Bay Hill. "Tiger and Davis can turn it on, but it didn't happen that day.

"I played not as aggressively as I did in the morning," Els said of his closing round. "I was watching the leaderboard all day. I didn't have to go after any heroics as I did in the morning. It worked out fine. The 65 came at the right time. I think guys got tired in the afternoon."

The South African native became the first foreign-born winner of the Bay Hill event, which first was played as the Florida Citrus Open Invitational in 1966. The victory gave him wins in five consecutive Tour seasons, a string he stretched to six at the Nissan Open this year. His Los Angeles win, coupled with his victory in January's South African PGA Championship, meant he has won Tournaments on two or more Tours each of the past six years.

The 29-year-old Els impressed even himself by what he accomplished at Bay Hill.

"This feels good," he said following his victory. "To play 36 holes with the best players in the world and win is a good thing."