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Saturday 16 December 2017

Els' successive victory march drowned out

Bad weather frustrated Ernie Els in his bid to win two PGA Tour events in a row as he led by two shots at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Els, competing for the first time since his win at Doral, was 11 under par, two clear of American Kevin Na, who was alone in second a shot in front of Els' fellow South African Retief Goosen, Ben Curtis and Chris Couch who were all on eight under.

The 'Big Easy' began yesterday in fine form before a double bogey on the 13th slowed his victory march.

Na, meanwhile, was showing the form which earned him rounds of 68 and 70 on Thursday and Friday before yesterday's 72.

But the horn prevented him and Els teeing off at the 15th as heavy rain arrived and scuppered play for the day. The final round resumes today.

Elsewhere, Louis Oosthuizen finally made his European Tour breakthrough when the South African took the Andalucia Open title with a final round three-under 67 for a 17-under 263 aggregate that left him three shots better than Britons Peter Whiteford (66) and Richard Finch (67).

Ireland's top-finishers in Malaga were Simon Thornton (68), Michael Hoey (69) and Gareth Maybin (72), who tied for 36th on three-under, earning €6,500 each.

Yet Paul McGinley, one stroke back in 45th (€4,900), was most satisfied of the Irish after completing all 72 holes problem-free in only his second tournament back since knee surgery last November.

After fighting his way into contention with Friday's 66, McGinley looked tired during Saturday's 74. However, he recuperated and turned out a nice display yesterday, posting a level-par 70.

Darren Clarke tried a belly putter as a final round 69 left him tied for 52nd (€3,900) on one-under. Irish Open champ Shane Lowry also shot a 69 as he rounded off his week in 64th (€2,150) on two-over.

Peter Lawrie had a disastrous quintuple-bogey nine at 18, a final round 75 leaving the Dubliner in 77th on six-over (€1,478). Gary Murphy, meanwhile, birdied that hole but still tied last with Julien Quesne on eight-over (€1,469) after a disappointing 73.

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