Ernie Els has the best track record of any player at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, but his recent putting woes made him an outside bet to contend at Emirates Golf Club. In the second round on Friday he silenced his critics with a bogey-free 67 that put him into a share of the early lead.
‘After the first week of the year that was probably the low point, because from 18 inches I was dodgy,’ said The Big Easy of his performance on the greens at the BMW South African Open Championship. ‘To make the changes that I’ve made – drastic changes in putting setup and grip – and now feeling confident is an about-turn. I was really nowhere and now I feel like I’ve got some game.’
The world number 205 has made one bogey in the last two days and heads into the weekend on nine under par, tied with Danny Willett.
‘Perfect conditions this morning and some tougher flag positions, so I’m very pleased with my round,’ said Els. ‘It probably won’t hold up, but I’ll be in the mix and thereabouts, and that’s all I can ask for. I’m looking forward to the weekend and playing pretty good.’
The four-time major champ has a rich history at the Dubai Desert Classic – he’s a three-time winner and almost always contends when he tees up there. He’s back in form and once again the man to beat in the desert.
‘It’s been a while since I’ve felt this good. When I won in Munich a couple of years ago, and at the US Open many years ago, but certainly for the last year I didn’t feel like this. It’s a nice feeling to have,’ he said.