Els goes low and dodges stones

Ernie Els carded his lowest score on the PGA Tour this season in the opening round of the Quicken Loans National on Thursday.

The South African eased his way around the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club to post a seven under 64 to sit just one behind co-leaders Retief Goosen and Ryo Ishikawa.

After a run of pars, Els would roll in three birdies towards the end of the front nine and back it up with another on the 11th. After his only dropped shot on the 12th, the Johannesburg-born player reached the par five 14th green in two and drained the eagle putt. Two more gains on the way home would see him surge up the leaderboard.

The round was welcomed by the four-time major winner, as he has had tough time in 2015 so far, missing eight cuts and failing to notch up a top ten finish in 20 starts.

“I haven’t played with a lot of confidence and you can’t play this game without having confidence,” the former world number two told Reuters.

“I didn’t have the most perfect warm-up into the week. I didn’t play any practice round or in the pro-am but I felt good this morning and my putter felt good.
“I kind of like the course so I just fed off a little bit of Presidents Cup experience, and I played quite nicely.”

The reason Els skipped the pro-am event was because of a kidney stone scare earlier in the week. Thankfully, a visit to the hospital confirmed it was a mild muscle spasm.

“I’ve got an L-10 (problem) and normally the pain shoots into my left side,” revealed Els.

“The pain was kind of on my back and then it went to the right and I thought maybe it was kidney stones. I guess I am just a wuss. It was pretty sore, and they say kidney stones are really, really painful. Luckily there was nothing wrong. It’s just a muscle spasm.”