Els: ‘I’m as low as I’ve ever been’

Ernie Els stood beside a wall adorned with photos and other mementos from his 1997 US Open triumph, but didn’t smile.

Ernie Els stood in a foyer at the palatial Congressional clubhouse, beside a wall adorned with photos and other mementos from his 1997 US Open triumph.

But clearly down-hearted, the big South African was in no mood to discuss his heroics of 14 years ago for he was fully expecting to miss the cut when it is finalised on Saturday morning after a handful of players complete rounds they were not able to finish due to Friday’s rain delays.

“Fourteen years ago, I was in a different position,” the glum two-time US Open winner told the Tenessean News Service on Friday.

“Missing the cut now, I’m a little bit older, I’m (turning) 42 this year, and obviously things aren’t going my way right now.

“It’s been a long time. I’ve had a lot of success the last 14 years since’97, but right now, I’m just as low as I’ve ever been, and that’s a fact.”

Els, hoping to better the 73 he shot on Thursday, missed a tap-in on his first hole on Friday, wound up four-putting the hole and never really recovered as he went on to shoot a 4-over 75 and finish with a 4-over 146 he was convinced would force him to pack his bags early.

Other Major winners and high profile golfers who look set to miss the cut are 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink, Adam Scott, who borrowed Tiger Woods’s long time caddy Steve Williams for this week’s event, 2003 US Open winner Jim Furyk and Colombia’s Camilo Villegas (149), the only player who had made the cut in all of the past 12 majors.

Charl Schwartzel, who ripped away McIlroy’s 4-shot lead after only three holes in the final round of the Masters in April and went on to win the Green Jacket, is unlikely to do the same sort of thing at this point in this week’s US Open.

Nor is fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen, who had a runaway win at the 2010 Open Championship.

Both are 11 shots off the pace on 142 after Schwartzel, in second place after the first round, slipped down the field with a second round 74 and Oosthuizen posted a 73.