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Ernie & Schwartzel Showdown; Stacy Lewis Tunes Up Down Under

by Jeff Skinner

Even though the LPGA’s first tournament on US soil is still two weeks away, many American players have travelled the world to get their season started.  This past week saw a bunch of American’s put their games on display in Australia at the Women’s Australian Open.  The pros were joined by the hottest American amateur, Alexis Thompson as she made the trip to Melbourne worthwhile with a tie for sixteenth finish.

The honor of low American went to former Arkansas All-American, Stacy Lewis with her seventh place finish.  Lewis played solid golf all week and if not for an inconsistent putter could have contended for the win.  It has been a very successful early season swing for Lewis as she finished in well in all four tournaments and cashed some healthy checks.  She has finished T22, T38, T8 and seventh so far this year and has earned over $45,000.  More importantly she has been finding her game and has been getting much later final round tee times and been teamed with some of the world’s best.  Lewis is surely looking to break through this year for a win and looks to be off to a good start.

Excuse me if I don’t join the ranks of the millions of golf fans that are lamenting the absence of  Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour.  Excuse me if I’m not one of the fans looking for more Americans at the top of the CA Championship leaderboard.  The leaderboard looks fine to me.  It has plenty of star power and enough interesting stories to please a real golf fan.  A tourney doesn’t need Tiger or Phil winning to be interesting.  How’s this for a good story: Charl Schwartzel is playing in the final pairing with his countrymen and hero Ernie Els.  Schwartzel is a good Euro Tour player that was tabbed as “the next great South African golfer” by none other than Ernie Els.  But, Els isn’t about to step aside for Chartzel, Els has been reborn this season and had rededicated himself to this season and says his game is working in all areas. Els will be doing his best to hold off the changing of the guard of South African golf for at least one more round.

Paddy Harrington sits in second place and is looking to jumpstart his 2010 season.  Harrington is such an anomaly on the course.  He looks to be very focused over each shot, to the point of being a fairly slow player.  But at the same time he is loose, relaxed and smiling all the time.  His mental coach, Dr. Bob Rotella says Harrington is so relaxed he gets distracted by his own thoughts: he spends time on the course thinking of what he will tell the media after his round.

Robert Allenby is two strokes back and could put pressure on the leaders and if you’re looking for an American to claim the title how about Bill Haas.  Haas is only three strokes back and playing his best golf ever.   Don’t tell me this doesn’t have the makings of a great final round on The Blue Monster, it does.  If you can’t see that you must not be a real golf fan and you can spend your Sunday afternoon searching the web for Tiger sightings.

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