Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Something Els for Suffering Ernie

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Something Els for Suffering Ernie

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Garrod

After a day he would like to forget in a hurry, star attraction Ernie Els is in danger of missing his first halfway cut on the European tour for six years.

A red-hot starting favourite for the Qatar Masters in Doha ( he is the only player in the world's top 50 taking part ( Els returned a one-over 73 to be joint 81st after the first round.

The world No 3, winner of the Dubai Desert Classic last Sunday, is seven strokes behind Swedish leader Pierre Fulke, 423rd in the rankings.

Only the leading 70 and ties tonight go through to the final 36 holes and the South African last failed to do that on the European circuit at the 1999 German Masters.

There he was disqualified for not completing his second round following two shots into water.

His current run of 58 cuts in a row is second in tour history to Bernhard Langer's 69 between 1991 and 1996. "I still feel I am swinging well, but I just couldn't get anything going," said Els, who is thought to have been paid well in excess of the pounds 129,917 first prize to participate.

In front of a sparse crowd ( only about 50 people were watching as he teed off ( Els began with a bogey six, the third round in a row he has failed to start with even a par.

A pulled second shot and then three putts led to that.

And then 11 pars in a row came before he left his tee shot to the 186-yard 13th short of the green and failed to get up and down.

It took him until the 18th to get a birdie on his card, chipping dead from the back of the green.

But while that did at least spare him finishing the day alongside Bahrain amateur Nasser Yacoob Saleh, it was still his worst score of the year. Fulke was in the world's top 40 when he qualified for the Ryder Cup, but his last top 10 finish was nearly 18 months ago.

"A lot of reasons really ( and it was self-inflicted," said the 34-year-old after his bogey-free display. …

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