/ 27 May 2007

Erratic Els: ‘Wacky, that’s the word’

Ernie Els continued his erratic progress in the BMW PGA championship in Wentworth, England, on Saturday, combining four birdies and two eagles with a series of bogeys, for a third-round and level par 72.

The South African, who began this year’s PGA tournament as one of the favourites due to both his track record and his intimate knowledge of the West Course, is enduring an unpredictable period with the United States Open only weeks away.

”Wacky, that’s the word,” Els said as he struggled to sum up his performance. Now level par and nine shots behind current leader Ross Fisher and Marcus Fraser, Els is mystified by his game.

”It’s hard to explain it,” he said. ”The bogey on the sixth, where I three putted, was probably the turning point that led to the downhill slide. I only had a nine iron into the green, but I left it 40 feet short and then three putted and I was two under at that stage.”

The par-four seventh proved his undoing. ”I pulled my tee shot left, then hit it into a greenside bunker. Then I hit it up to the green, but it came down and then I four putted. Then on the ninth, I made a double bogey, so I am making some numbers this week.

”It’s unbelievable. To be level par with the numbers I have made is crazy.”

But Els denied that the continuing debate over the changes he masterminded on the West Course has undermined his performance.

”I wouldn’t say it’s affecting my play,” he said. ”It’s a separate issue but I think most of the guys really like it. I think the main concern is the 12th hole.”

Yet the par-five 12th, with its redesigned water hazard, provided one of the highlights of his round, when he registered his second eagle of the day.

”I hit a three wood just short of the creek, and then a three iron to two or three feet,” he said. But his unpredictable form was summed up minutes later, with the final bogey of his round on the next hole, the par-four 13th.

”At the moment I am doing some really good things and I’m doing some really stupid things,” Els said. ”At times I guess I am trying to be too perfect. Then when you fail you really go backwards. The game’s really knocking me on the head a bit at the moment.” — Sapa-AFP