Els laments shot at new 18th
Latest news from the BMW PGA where Ernie Els has came a cropper at Wentworth’s controversial new 18th.
Ernie Els came a cropper at Wentworth’s controversial new 18th – the hole over which he argued with the club owner – when the European Tour’s flagship event began today.
Three under par on the tee and sharing the first round lead in the BMW PGA Championship, Els hit his three-wood second shot into the ditch that now curls round the green.
After walking off with a bogey six while playing partner Ross Fisher, who chose to lay up, birdied it for a four under 67, the South African threw a second ball into the water in annoyance.
“I don’t feel very good right now,” said Els, who was hired by the Surrey club to make extensive changes, but admits he was not left to do everything his own way.
On the shot that cost him dear he added: “It was on. I had been hitting the ball so good and it was a perfect little five-wood.
“I just dragged it. I didn’t make a good swing.
“Right now I’m disappointed, but overall the course played fair and very well. The way it was set up gave people the opportunity to make birdies and that’s what we had in mind.”
Fisher, a member of the club from his junior days and runner-up to Paul Casey after a closing 64 last year, has been fairly quiet since his World Match Play victory in Spain late last season.
But the Ryder Cup hopeful came back to the fore with a round that contained no fewer than nine birdies, but also three bogeys and a double bogey on the 470-yard 13th.
“I’m very, very pleased,” he said. “The putter has really, really let me down pretty much since the Match Play.
“I lost track of the birdies there were so many.”
Asked about his local knowledge Fisher, who closed with a 15-foot putt, replied: “I used to know it – it’s very, very different.”
While Els’ finish still left him in the hunt Ian Poulter crashed to a 78 and Padraig Harrington had to settle for a level par 71 after running up a triple bogey eight on the long 17th.
Poulter was battling a neck strain at the start of the week, but said his score had nothing to do with that.
His second shot of the day flew right into the trees and his bogey there was the first of eight, while his only birdie came on the par five fourth.
“I didn’t play very well,” he commented. “The neck was fine, the course was in good condition. I don’t know what you want me to say, how much more you want me to elaborate.
“If you don’t play well it’s going to punish you. It’s hard to scramble round the course the way they’ve changed it.”
He and Harrington stayed away the last two years because of concerns over greens Poulter described as “bumpy,” but once they had heard they were being relaid they both put the event back on their schedules.
Harrington was going well until he drove into trees on the penultimate hole. His second shot was a chip into a bush and after
taking a penalty drop he chipped again, was short of the green in five and needed three more.
Fisher set the early clubhouse target, but fellow Englishman Danny Willett then birdied the 16th and 17th to take over at the top on five under.
Alongside Fisher were Australian left-hander Richard Green, Swede Alex Noren and Indian SSP Chowrasia.
Rory McIlroy, Willett’s teammate in the 2007 Walker Cup, was among the later starters along with world number three Lee Westwood, holder Paul Casey and Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.
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