Ernie Els shared spotlight with O.J. Simpson, Arnold Palmer 22 years ago at Oakmont

By  Tom D’Angelo

Ernie Els captured his first major at the 1994 U.S. Open.
Ernie Els captured his first major at the 1994 U.S. Open.

OAKMONT, Pa. — Ernie Els was on the verge of winning his first major when all the attention was diverted from Oakmont to Southern California.

The Jupiter resident was just 24 when he captured the 1994 U.S. Open, but after the first round, nobody was paying much attention. That’s because on the second day of the tournament the nation was captivated by a white bronco meandering along the L.A. freeways in which O.J. Simpson was a passenger.

“Well, I knew there was a car chase going on,” Els said following his practice round on Tuesday for this week’s U. S. Open. “I think that whole weekend was getting kind of weird. I think they cut the golf coverage to go to L.A., some helicopter chasing the Bronco down the highway.

“I didn’t know much about O.J. Simpson but he was very famous to have all of L.A. chasing.”

Police following white bronco in which O.J. Simpson was a passenger 22 years ago Friday.
Police following white bronco in which O.J. Simpson was a passenger 22 years ago Friday.

The chase was 22 years ago Friday. Three days later, with Simpson still dominating the headlines, Els notched the first of his four majors on the second sudden death hole to defeat Loren Roberts after Colin Montgomerie was eliminated in an 18-hole playoff.

Els was tied for seventh entering the weekend, four shots behind Montgomerie. He shot to the lead with a 66 on Saturday and then carded a 73 on the final day to slip into the three-way tie at 5-under.

The ’94 Open was Els’ second. This year he is playing in his 24th.

“When you win a U.S. Open, Oakmont is one of the iconic venues,” he said.

The tournament was memorable for other reasons: It was Arnold Palmer’s final U.S. Open. Palmer, 64, had not played in the tournament in 11 years but he received an exemption since it was in his home state.

Els recalls the commotion surrounding Palmer’s final round on Friday, the same day as the chase.

“I remember all the people on 18,” he said. “And then afterwards, I saw the replay of his press conference where he got quite emotional. That was quite something.

“Yeah, it was quite a week.”

 

Video: Who is going to win the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont?

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How far over par could the winner be this week at the U.S. Open?

PGATOUR.com’s John Swantek and Noah Coslov talk about the course and the favorites and make their picks to win this weekend at Oakmont Country Club.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Jordan Spieth of the United States and Rickie Fowler of the United States talk during a practice round prior to the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club on June 13, 2016 in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Jordan Spieth of the United States and Rickie Fowler of the United States talk during a practice round prior to the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club on June 13, 2016 in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Tiger Woods to skip US Open at Oakmont

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For the third time in the past six years, the U.S. Open will go on without three-time champion Tiger Woods.

Tiger Woods of the United States speaks to the media during a press conference in a practice round prior to the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on August 11, 2015 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods of the United States speaks to the media during a press conference in a practice round prior to the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on August 11, 2015 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Woods said on his website Tuesday that he is not ready for tournament competition and will skip the U.S. Open next week at Oakmont, along with his Quicken Loans National the following week at Congressional.

“While I continue to work hard on getting healthy, I am not physically ready to play in this year’s U.S. Open and the Quicken Loans National,” he said. “I am making progress, but I’m not yet ready for tournament competition.”

Woods first missed the U.S. Open in 2011 when he was recovering from leg injuries. He missed in 2014 at Pinehurst No. 2 while recovering from his first back surgery a week before the Masters that year.

He has not played since a tie for 10th in the Wyndham Championship in August. Woods had two more surgeries on his back after that, in September and October.

Meanwhile, his absence fueled speculation about when he might return, even though Woods repeatedly has said he does not know. Woods played five holes when he opened his golf course in Houston, and also was seen swinging a club at a junior clinic in South Carolina and at his media day at Congressional — three swings from 100 yards to the 10th green, all of them in the water.

Jack Nicklaus said last week at the Memorial he expects Woods to return.

“I think Tiger would have liked to have played this week,” Nicklaus said. “He’s just not ready.”

Since Woods was exempt from having to qualify because he won the 2008 U.S. Open, his spot will be filled by an alternate from the 12 sectional qualify sites, though it was not clear which one. The USGA compiles an alternate list that is based on how many spots each qualifying site was allocated and the strength of each field in determining the list.

When qualifying ended on Tuesday, and with Woods saying he will not play, 149 of the 156-man field for Oakmont was set.

The USGA set aside six spots for any players who crack the top 60 in the world ranking after this week. One of them will be William McGirt, who now is No. 44 in the world after winning the Memorial. If fewer than five more players get into the top 60, the extra spots also go to the main alternate list.

But if a player who qualified has to withdraw, his spot is taken by the alternate from his qualifying site.

Meanwhile, speculation on when or if Woods returns this year will resume after two weeks. The Greenbrier Classic, which he has played twice in the last four years when not dealing with injuries, is July 7-10. That’s one week before the British Open at Royal Troon.

The PGA Championship is two weeks after Troon, followed by the Travelers Championship, the John Deere Classic and the Wyndham Champion. Woods has never played the Travelers Championship and has not played at John Deere since he was a 20-year-old rookie.

After that, he would not be eligible for any PGA Tour event for the next six weeks during the FedEx Cup and Ryder Cup.

Exclusive: Jack Nicklaus ‘disappointed’ WGC is leaving Donald Trump’s Doral course

MIAMI: Jack Nicklaus chips on the 18th during the second round of the Genuity Championship at Doral on March 2, 2001. (Staff Photo by Scott Wiseman/The Palm Beach Post)
MIAMI: Jack Nicklaus chips on the 18th during the second round of the Genuity Championship at Doral on March 2, 2001. (Staff Photo by Scott Wiseman/The Palm Beach Post)

As was reported earlier Wednesday, the PGA’s annual golf tournament at Donald Trump’s Trump National Doral course is relocating to Mexico City. The PGA said Tuesday night — and repeated again Wednesday — that it was leaving South Florida because it was unable to find a title sponsor to replace Cadillac.

Reached for comment, golf legend and North Palm Beach resident Jack Nicklaus was frustrated with the idea of the tournament leaving South Florida.

“I am disappointed for Doral and the city of Miami,” he told the Post. “Both have been a staple on the PGA Tour schedule, as well as my own, since my rookie year in 1962.”

[Dave George: After 54 golden years, Doral deserves better than to be discarded like this]

Yet the 18-time major winner does see some positives in the tournament moving south of the border.

“I have always believed that golf is a global game,” he continued, “and I have made it a lifelong mission to travel the world to introduce and grow the game by either playing it or designing golf courses. So I am delighted that an event with the significance of a World Golf Championship is coming to Mexico City, and I think it is a huge positive for the Tour and the game itself.

“My only hope is that golf played at its highest level will soon return to Miami and Trump Doral.”

The 76-year-old Nicklaus recently praised Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, on “CBS Sunday Morning,” saying he likes “what Donald has done … he’s turning America upside down. He’s awakening the country.”

Nicklaus said he anticipates voting for Trump in November.

PGA tournament leaving Donald Trump’s Doral course for Mexico City

The annual PGA golf tournament at Donald Trump’s Trump National Doral, the course just west of Miami, will be relocating to Mexico City, according to various reports Wednesday.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump makes an appearance prior to the start of play during the final round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral Blue Monster Course on March 6, 2016 in Doral, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump makes an appearance prior to the start of play during the final round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral Blue Monster Course on March 6, 2016 in Doral, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Butch Buchholz, who ran the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump’s course, told the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson that the PGA informed him Tuesday night that it was leaving South Florida because it was unable to find a title sponsor to replace Cadillac.

This news comes approximately six months after the PGA said it would reevaluate the future of the tournament at Doral — which has been held in Doral since 1962 — because of Trump’s controversial comments about Muslims and other non-native Americans.

Trump addressed the situation Tuesday evening on Fox News:

“I mean, I just heard that the PGA Tour is taking their tournament out of Miami and moving it to Mexico as an example. They’re taking it — it’s at Doral, it’s at — they used one of my places. They’re moving their tournament, it’s the Cadillac World Golf Championship. And Cadillac’s been a great sponsor, but they’re moving it to Mexico. They’re moving it to Mexico City which, by the way, I hope they have kidnapping insurance. But they’re moving it to Mexico City. And I’m saying, you know, what’s going on here? It is so sad when you look at what’s going on with our country.”

As ESPN points out, it is unclear what effect if any Trump’s “politically charged comments on the campaign trail had any impact on the move. In January, the PGA Tour pledged its commitment to the tournament and Miami but said it would review the future upon completion of the March event.”

According to the Golf Channel, the relocated tournament will be played in 2017 at the Club de Golf Chapultepec outside Mexico City and will be sponsored by the Grupo Salinas conglomerate.

Trump released this statement Wednesday afternoon:

“It is a sad day for Miami, the United States and the game of golf, to have the PGA Tour consider moving the World Golf Championships, which has been hosted in Miami for the last 55 years, to Mexico. No different than Nabisco, Carrier and so many other American companies, the PGA Tour has put profit ahead of thousands of American jobs, millions of dollars in revenue for local communities and charities and the enjoyment of hundreds of thousands of fans who make the tournament an annual tradition. This decision only further embodies the very reason I am running for President of the United States.”

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is scheduled to speak during a news conference at 4:30 p.m. ET at the Memorial Tournament.

The WGC-Cadillac Championship hosts the world’s top golfers, with only 50 invited golfers allowed to participate. Adam Scott won the tournament in 2016, and past winners include Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.

More to come on this developing story.

[Trump makes appearance at namesake golf course in Doral for PGA event]

[Rory McIlroy has strong opinions on Donald Trump, presidential race]

[Jack Nicklaus says Trump is “turning American upside down]

[Doral abuzz over whether Donald Trump will appear at PGA tournament]

[2016 Honda Classic: Golfers react to PGA Tour’s rift with Donald Trump]

Video: Three holes-in-one on 16th hole in final round of the Masters

Davis Love III of the United States celebrates his hole in one on the 16th green as Webb Simpson of the United States looks on during the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Davis Love III of the United States celebrates his hole in one on the 16th green as Webb Simpson of the United States looks on during the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

A hole-in-one at the Masters is a pretty special moment, even if your name is nowhere near the top of the leaderboard. ​In fact, as of Saturday, there had only been 15 aces on the par-3 16th hole in the 80-plus-year history of the Masters.

Yet Sunday at Augusta National saw not one … not two … but THREE holes-in-one at 16. And the third — in particular — is not to be missed.

(RELATED: Photos from Sunday’s incredible final round at Augusta)

First was Shane Lowry:

Davis Love III came next, approximately 30 minutes later:

And, finally, Louis Oosthuizen did the deed in amazing fashion, as his tee shot hit the green, rolled back and kissed off the ball of his playing partner before rolling miraculously into the cup.

Yes, Sunday will be remembered for Jordan Spieth’s back-nine collapse.

But three aces on the same hole? That’s pretty cool, too.

Tee times, pairings announced for first round of 2016 Masters

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Check out Thursday’s opening-round tee times for the 2016 Masters at Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia.

Jason Day of Australia plays his shot from the third tee during a practice round prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Jason Day of Australia plays his shot from the third tee during a practice round prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

8:05 AM: Arnold Palmer (Honorary Starter); Gary Player (Honorary Starter); Jack Nicklaus (Honorary Starter)

8:20 AM: Jim Herman (USA); Steven Bowditch (Australia)

8:31 AM: Trevor Immelman (South Africa); Robert Streb (USA); Derek Bard (USA)*

8:42 AM: Larry Mize (USA); Victor Dubuisson (France); Kevin Streelman (USA)

8:53 AM: Sandy Lyle (Scotland); Bernd Wiesberger (Austria); Vaughn Taylor (USA)

9:04 AM: Webb Simpson (USA); Chris Wood (England); Thongchai Jaidee (Thailand)

9:15 AM: Tom Watson (USA); Charley Hoffman (USA); Lee Westwood (England)

9:26 AM: Zach Johnson (USA); Rickie Fowler (USA); Cheng Jin (China)*

9:37 AM: Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa); Jason Dufner (USA); Patrick Reed (USA)

9:48 AM: Jordan Spieth (USA); Paul Casey (England); Bryson DeChambeau (USA)*

9:59 AM: Justin Thomas (USA); Emiliano Grillo (Argentina); Dustin Johnson (USA)

10:10 AM: Open

10:21 AM: Vijay Singh (Fiji); Hideki Matsuyama (Japan); Chris Kirk (USA)

10:32 AM: Harris English (USA); Andy Sullivan (England); Kevin Na (USA)

10:43 AM: Phil Mickelson (USA); Marc Leishman (Australia); Henrik Stenson (Sweden)

10:54 AM: Justin Rose (England); Jamie Donaldson (Wales); Daniel Berger (USA)

11:05 AM: Adam Scott (Australia); Kevin Kisner (USA); Brooks Koepka (USA)

11:16 AM: Mike Weir (Canada); Cameron Smith (Australia); Sammy Schmitz (USA)*

11:27 AM: Ian Woosnam (Wales); Troy Merritt (USA); Byeong-Hun An (Korea)

11:38 AM: Darren Clarke (Northern Ireland); Billy Horschel (USA); Matthew Fitzpatrick (England)

11:49 AM: Mark O’Meara (USA); David Lingmerth (Sweden); Paul Chaplet (Costa Rica)*

12:00 PM: Keegan Bradley (USA); Brandt Snedeker (USA); Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand)

12:11 PM: Open

12:22 PM: Charl Schwartzel (South Africa); Davis Love III (USA); Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spain)

12:33 PM: Danny Lee (New Zealand); Russell Knox (Scotland); Smylie Kaufman (USA)

12:44 PM: Bubba Watson (USA); Branden Grace (South Africa); Ian Poulter (England)

12:55 PM: Bernhard Langer (Germany); Hunter Mahan (USA); Romain Langasque (France)*

1:06 PM: Jason Day (Australia); Matt Kuchar (USA); Ernie Els (South Africa)

1:17 PM: Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland); Fabian Gomez (Argentina); Scott Piercy (USA)

1:28 PM: Jimmy Walker (USA); Soren Kjeldsen (Denmark); Anirban Lahiri (India)

1:39 PM: Danny Willett (England); Sergio Garcia (Spain); Ryan Moore (USA)

1:50 PM: Angel Cabrera (Argentina); Shane Lowry (Ireland); J. B. Holmes (USA)

2:01 PM: Martin Kaymer (Germany); Bill Haas (USA); Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)

(*Amateurs are noted with an asterisk.)

Quiz: How much do you remember about Jack Nicklaus and sports in 1986?

We celebrate the 30th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus’ last win at the Masters with this quiz looking back at 1986 in the world of sports. Just how much do you remember from 30 years ago?

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Jason Bohn has stent inserted for major blockage following heart attack at Honda Classic

 Jason Bohn plays his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Course) on February 11, 2016 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Jason Bohn plays his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Course) on February 11, 2016 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

PALM BEACH GARDENS — A day after suffering a mild heart attack following the second round of the Honda Classic, PGA golfer Jason Bohn was in “great spirits” Saturday morning.

“Jason is resting comfortably and in good spirits,” his agent, Justin Richmond, said in a statement. “He is scheduled to have more tests this weekend. We know he appreciates the concern from so many people in the PGA Tour family who have reached out.”

Tests Saturday found that Friday’s scare could have been far worse. Per the Associated Press:

“The 42-year-old golfer had a stent inserted Saturday for what he says was 99 percent blockage of a major artery. In a text exchange with [NBC Sports], Bohn says the blockage was in his left anterior descending artery — known as the ‘widow maker’ because it could lead to a major heart attack.”

Bohn, a Pennsylvania native who now resides in Atlanta, experienced chest pains Friday after finishing his second round at PGA National. According to Honda Classic officials, he sought the assistance of an on-site medic and was advised to take an ambulance to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center for further testing.

There, he was diagnosed with a mild heart attack, though he was considered stable.

According to a tournament statement, his in-laws are with him, while his wife is home with their children.

Though he was forced to withdraw from the Honda Classic, Bohn had made the cut, shooting rounds of 71-72 to put himself at 3 over par heading into the weekend.

Rory McIlroy misses cut at Honda Classic for second straight year

Rory McIlroy grimaces after missing a putt on the 14th hole during the second round of the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on February 26, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Rory McIlroy grimaces after missing a putt on the 14th hole during the second round of the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on February 26, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH GARDENS — Golf fans who opted to wait for the weekend to see world No. 3 Rory McIlroy play in the Honda Classic won’t get that opportunity.

McIlroy, a part-time Palm Beach Gardens resident, offset four birdies with a double bogey, triple-bogey and bogey on his way to a 2-over 72 Friday and missed the cut for the second straight year. McIlroy uncharacteristically declined media requests for interviews after his round.

McIlroy has failed to reach the final 36 holes of only four tournaments in the past five years, three of which have been in the Honda Classic. He shot 73-74-147 in the first two rounds last year to miss the cut, and also withdrew midway through the second round of the 2013 Honda, later blaming the decision on a toothache.

McIlroy won the Honda Classic in 2013 and tied for second after reaching a four-man playoff in 2014. His only other missed cut in the past four years came at the 2013 British Open.

McIlroy, who also shot a 72 Thursday, was 5-over on two par-3 holes Friday. His tee shot on No. 15 found the water, resulting in a double-bogey. On No. 5, his approach from 30 feet from the pin rolled down a hill and also wound up in the water. After taking a drop, he chipped on and two-putted for triple-bogey.

Former Dwyer High student Daniel Berger, who finished second last year, also missed the cut.