Granted, there is no contest about which is the big story in golf. There has been only one since 1997 and Tiger Woods is a bigger story now than ever.

           But in terms of newsworthiness as well as the World Golf Ranking, No. 2 is a pretty exalted spot during the Woods era. And Ernie Els is putting himself in that category. He has always been interesting anyway, going back to the days when he was the wunderkind and then when he was occasionally the foil for Woods' dynamism.

           This year, Els has taken on even greater interest. He was among the first to break the longstanding PGA Tour taboo against saying anything bad about Woods. Els had the guts to speak out when Woods had his public apology during the Accenture Match Play Championship, saying that it was "selfish." Els backed off that a bit this week, suggested that he, Els, might have been selfish. Still, it was out there.

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           More important, Els won at Doral on a tough course against a good field--breaking a two-year victory drought in the U.S.. And he is four holes away from winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, another tough course and good field. He is up by two after 14 in the final round, which will resume Monday morning after being halted by Florida rain Sunday.

             Golf Channel will air the end of the round at 10 a.m. Els will be worth watching. he definitely will be worth watching at Augusta, too.