Ernie Els enjoyed an up and down day on Thursday at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
Els opened with eight straight pars on the course which was recently redesigned, before a birdie on 9 helped him into red figures.
He then gave that shot straight back with a bogey 4 on the par three 10th before a birdie on the next. Two pars helped him restore some calm, but a bogey at the next par three, the 14th, saw him drop back to level.
A birdie on 16 before two closing pars helped the South African to a 71 on Thursday. After the round, Els called a two-shot penalty on himself for an infraction on the 12th hole where scorers had him down for an eagle 3 after a chip, but that was changed to a par for not correctly replacing his ball.
Two shots better off is big-hitting Dean Burmester, who was three under after five holes. A string of pars and a bogey on the ninth saw him go out in 33.
A bogey on 10 cost him another shot, but he quickly made three successive birdies to rocket up the leaderboard.
Unfortunately, the Tshwane Open winner made bogeys at 15 and 17, but restored some of the damage with a birdie on the final hole.
At the time of writing, Branden Grace was -3 after seven holes.
Earlier, SA Open winner Graeme Storm was one shot off the early clubhouse lead after firing an opening 68. The leading trio is comprised of Francesco Molinari, Kiredech Aphibarnrat and Scott Jamieson.
Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images