Els struggles, still not in the Masters

Ernie Els at No. 6 during the the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

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ORLANDO, Fla. – Ernie Els’ final-round 75 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational may have cost him a trip to the Masters. Els’ struggles dropped him into a seven-way tie for fourth at Bay Hill. He needed to crack the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking on Sunday to earn a Masters invitation, but only rose to 58th.

“I didn’t have my putting touch today, that was the difference,” Els said. “I was a little tentative again and the wind didn’t help too much on the greens. I’m pleased with my ball-striking, but again on the greens, I was awful.”

Els needed to finish second to crack the top 50. He has one more opportunity to get to Augusta, though. He must win next week’s Shell Houston Open. Els has played every Masters since 1994 and has twice been runner-up there.

Ben Crane, who missed the Bay Hill cut, finished the week 49th in the Official World Golf Ranking, earning himself a Masters invite.

This was the second straight week that Sunday struggles cost Els an opportunity to play at Augusta National. He bogeyed the final two holes of last week’s Transitions Championship to finish one shot outside of a four-man playoff.

Els had five bogeys and two birdies Sunday. “I was just trying to play a good round of golf and get some confidence going,” he said. “On the greens I wasn’t that sharp today and that’s something I’ve still got to be working on.”

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