Ernie Els produced a little bit of magic on Saturday as the former world number one fired a flawless six-under-par 65 to move into second place on his own at 13-under-par at the Quicken Loans National. The leader is local hero Billy Hurley III, who shot a 67 to take a two-shot lead heading into the final round.
‘It was fun, I found a really nice swing I thought yesterday on our 17th hole,’ Els said. ‘Hit three-wood just right down the middle there. I got that swing thought in my mind last night and used it again on the range and I just felt comfortable over the ball and then with the putter.’
‘Playing at Congressional is one of my favorite places to pay golf at, and playing with a little bit of confidence in the golf swing. I kind of found my swing and putting touch … just been enjoying it,’ he added.
The 46-year-old started with five straight pars before some hot iron play and a good putter saw him rack up birdies on the sixth, seventh and eighth. After making the turn, Els rolled in two solid pars before he came to the 12th hole.
A good drive saw the ‘Big Easy’ have a 157-yard approach shot into the green. Never mind the putter, Els’ hot iron play went up a few degrees as he holed out for eagle to climb to 12-under-par.
‘When the game gives you something, there’s a lot of excitement and that is really one of the more exciting moments,’ Els said. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever slam dunked it into the hole like that. I’ve had some run up slopes and run to the hole, but that just flew right in so that was a great feeling.’
The four-time major winner would sink another birdie at the 14th before reeling off four pars to conclude his round.
Billy Hurley III remained composed for his round as playing partner Jon Rahm faltered. The Maryland resident also produced a flawless 18 that included four birdies and no dropped shots as he engineered himself a two-shot lead heading into Sunday.
21-year-old Rahm faltered with four bogeys in his round as he eventually tapped in on the 18th for a round of 70. In third on his own and three shots behind the leader, the Spaniard still has a chance of winning on his professional debut, but he will have to keep his nerve come the final round.