South Africa’s Ernie Els had a tough start to the PGA Tour Champions, following an opening round 72 at the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai Golf Club in Hawaii, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
The four-time Major champion celebrated his 50th birthday in October last year and confirmed a month later than we would join the 50 and older competition for the start of the season this week.
A total of 27 events are scheduled for the year and it includes a hefty prize of $59 million for the winner.
Els got off to a very impressive start, though, when he birdied the first and fourth holes but a double bogey in the par 3 fifth halted his strong start.
One more birdie and a bogey meant the Big Easy closed out his front nine on even par. As was the case on the back nine where an early birdie on the 10th looked to have given him some confidence to climb up the leaderboard.
Unfortunately, Els dropped another shot on the par 4, 15th hole before he eventually finished his round all square.
Germany’s Bernhard Langer and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez share the lead on 8 under par after the first round, while Retief Goosen, who won the Rookie of the Year award last season, is on 5 under after an excellent round of 67, which included an eagle on the par 5 fourh hole.
Els will play alongside American Kirk Triplett in the second round on Friday.