Ernie Els shoots into a share of the lead halfway through his opening round in the SA Open

06 December 2018 - 11:06 By Liam Del Carme
Ernie Els during day 1 of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius on November 28, 2018 in Beau Champ, Mauritius.
Ernie Els during day 1 of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius on November 28, 2018 in Beau Champ, Mauritius.
Image: Thinus Maritz/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images

Player-host Ernie Els shot into a share of the lead halfway through his opening round in the SA Open on Thursday.

Els was four-under after nine holes and shared the early lead with England’s Ben Evans.

Els birdied the first on Randpark’s Bushwillow lay-out before completing a hat-trick of birdies leading into the turn.

By the time he completed the 14th Evans had rolled in five birdies‚ while settling for one bogey.

Els was quietly optimistic about stringing together some decent scores in an event he has won four times.

“I’m good. I didn’t finish well in Mauritius last week. We did travel a lot before that so maybe the jet lag caught up with me.

“At my age to shoot under par and in the 60s is nice‚” said the 49-year-old.

“Obviously I’d like to win but the consistency is not where it should be‚ but I am playing better.

"I’ve been playing better since October and shooting under par.

"I just have to try and put it together‚ putting four rounds together is another thing. I feel like I’m striking the ball well and I’m putting well‚” said Els.

On Friday Els will play the Firethorn lay-out‚ and it has been a while since he played a competitive round there.

“The last time I was here Retief (Goosen) beat me on the 18th hole‚ I think in 1995‚" he said.

"It is nice to come back to a golf course I am very familiar with. There is a lot at stake. There is a lot to play for.”

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