Thursday, October 17, 2013


Macau, October 17: Birthday boy Ernie Els battled to an opening level par 71 in the US$800,000 Venetian Macau Open as he stayed within striking reach of clubhouse leader Scott Barr on Thursday.
The South African four-time Major winner fought back from being four-over-par through seven holes at a blustery Macau Golf and Country Club, coming home with three birdies for a polished inward nine.
Barely 24 hours after landing in Macau after enduring flight delays en route from Las Vegas, Els, who is an Asian Tour honorary member and international ambassador, showed why he has won 70 tournaments worldwide despite his horrendous start.
“I have to be happy with that. It was a tough start. It’s still blowing now. It was quite dark and it looked like it was going to come down on us. But we got it in the house. I started hitting some nice shots, made a little adjustment with my putter and made some three or four footers. All in all, it’s not a bad day,” said the man nicknamed “The Big Easy”.
“It’s a demanding course. When you’re off, you’re going to make big numbers. That’s the challenge, stay away from the big numbers and try to plod away. I felt good with the driver today and hit some good drives. Some of the par fives were a good advantage for me.”
Celebrating his 44th birthday on Thursday, Els, has endured a whirlwind past 24 hours upon his late arrival into Macau. He played several holes of the pro-am in the afternoon, attended a gala dinner in the evening and then teed up at 7.10am this morning.
“I think I had a four-hour sleep which was great. I slept quite a lot on the plane coming here as it was a long flight. You just get on with it. But the older you get, the tougher it gets. At 44, it’s getting difficult. I’ve got to look at my schedule,” said Els.
“I always love coming here. It’s a wonderful place in the world to come play golf. I’ve seen the (Asian) Tour grow nicely and so many great players now. Golf is such an exciting sport in Asia and you just want to be part of it. I’ve been coming over here for nearly 20 years now and it’s exciting to see the changes over here.”



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