Els celebrates in style

European Tour

Ernie Els got his birthday off to a great start by surging into the lead of the Hong Kong Open on Friday.

A scintillating five under 65 would see the South African jump to the top of the leaderboard on nine under at the Hong Kong Golf Club.

After two birdies in his first three holes, Els was dropped a shot on the fourth. After eight pars in a row, he would enjoy a run of four birdies over his last six holes for a two stroke lead over Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin and Australian pair Scott Hend and Cameron Smith.

“I played quite nicely and a 65 was exactly what I needed to do, but the course is there for the taking so we’ll see if I’m leading by the end of the day,” the 45-year-old told europeantour.com

It was an errand drive on the par four fourth that lead to hi solitary bogey. Els reflected on the shot.

“The shot was on but I didn’t really have to go for it,” added the four time major winner.

“It was a bit of a mental mistake on my part. I had a chance of scoring really low today and I kind of lost my momentum. But I’m looking forward to the rest of the week and obviously I’m in a good position.”

The organisers of the event gave Els a cake to celebrate his birthday, which he intended to enjoy after his round.

“I’m just going to really enjoy the afternoon, have a piece of that cake and relax,” he added.

Meanwhile, overnight leader Jyoti Randhawa carded an even par to to surrender his lead and drop down to six under.

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