BREAKING NEWS
Black Caps win third ODI against Australia ... Read more
Close

No picnic for 'Big Easy' Ernie Els at Merion

MARK LAMPORT-STOKES
Last updated 05:14 15/06/2013

Relevant offers

Golf

Kiwi Danny Lee fades to 4th as Hideki Matsuyma wins Phoenix Open Coach David Leadbetter labels Lydia Ko a 'silent assassin' ahead of New Zealand Women's Open Danny Willett keeps his nerve to win Dubai Desert Classic Kiwi golfer Michael Long wins Victorian Open in thrilling playoff hole Danny Lee leads big names on record-setting day at Phoenix Open Lydia Ko finishes tied for third at LPGA's Coates Championship Lydia Ko driving force at NZ Women's NZ Open for years, says David Leadbetter NZ's Lydia Ko shares third-round lead in Florida as darkness forces early finish Danny Lee sinks birdie putt on 'party hole' at PGA TPC Scottsdale, tied for second Rory McIlroy hits back after tossing his ball in a lake at Dubai Desert Classic

Ernie Els was relieved to finish the weather-delayed US Open first round with a one-over-par 71 today after coping with tugging winds and chilly rain that reminded him of British Open conditions.

The veteran South African had briefly got to within a stroke of the championship lead but struggled over Merion's notoriously difficult five-hole closing stretch, making three successive bogeys from the 14th.

"It was really blowing a bit this morning, probably a two-club wind," said Els, a two-time winner of both the US and British Opens.

"And it's dead into you on 14, 15, 17, then 18 is downwind. And it was raining a bit.

"So it was really more British Open championship stuff I should say. It was really difficult. You throw the rough in there, then the length of some of the holes, it's a tough finish."

Els had 10 holes remaining when he resumed the opening round on Friday morning and made a bright start with birdies at the ninth and 10th to get to two under, one behind Phil Mickelson's overnight lead.

However, his troubles began the moment he reached the par-four 14th as he missed the fairway off the tee and was able to advance his ball only a further 20 yards out of Merion's heavy rough.

The 43-year-old former world number one, popularly known as the 'Big Easy' because of his relaxed demeanor and imposing physique, also bogeyed 15 and 16 to drop back to one over.

"(On) 16 I only had a nine-iron and on 15, I kind of mis-clubbed myself, so those two bogeys sting a little bit," said Els, who clinched his fourth major title at last year's British Open.

"It would have been great to get it into the red (under par). But I got to be fortunate, and I am happy with one over. Seventeen and 18 are just virtually impossible.

"It's very difficult and I was actually fortunate a couple of times. I didn't hit too many fairways, but I did get reasonable lies."

US Open champion in 1994 and 1997, Els ended the opening round with three birdies and four bogeys on his card, four shots behind leader Mickelson and tied for 16th place in a field of 156.

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Special offers
Opinion poll

If she is able to, when do you expect Lydia Ko to win her first major?

Next year, she's so close

She's still working towards it, within three years

It may be longer than we think, within five years

The expectation might be too much, maybe never

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content